Predicting Malawian Women's Intention to Adhere to Antiretroviral Therapy

J Public Health Res. 2015 Jul 16;4(2):533. doi: 10.4081/jphr.2015.533.


Background: With the increase in scaling up of antiretroviral therapy (ART), knowledge of the need for adherence to ART is pivotal for successful treatment outcomes.

Design and methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out between October and December 2013. We administered theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and adherence questionnaires to 358 women aged 18-49 years, from a rural and urban ART-clinics in southern Malawi. Hierarchical linear regression models were used to predict intentions to adhere to ART.

Results: Regression models show that attitude (β=0.47), subjective norm (β=0.31) and perceived behavioural control (β=0.12) explain 55% of the variance in intentions to adhere to ART. The relationship between both food insecurity and perceived side effects with intentions to adhere to ART is mediated by attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioural control. Household (r=0.20) and individual (r=0.21) food insecurity were positively and significantly correlated with perceived behavioural control. Household food insecurity had a negative correlation with perceived side effects (r=-0.11). Perceived side effects were positively correlated with attitude (r=0.25). There was no statistically significant relationship between intentions to adhere to ART in the future and one month self-report of past month adherence. These interactions suggest that attitude predicted adherence only when food insecurity is high or perception of side effects is strong.

Conclusions: This study shows that modification might be needed when using TPB constructs in resource constraint environments. Significance for public healthThe knowledge of the rates of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) could be used to evaluate planning and project, which could lead to better outcomes predicted by treatment efficacy data. In addition, knowledge of adherence behaviour could help the development of interventions focusing on collaboration between healthcare providers and Malawian government to provide food support for patients on ART. The interventions could also focus on providing better counselling support to improve beliefs regarding control over taking the medication and perceived versus real side effects. It is relevant for public health professors to understand factors influencing women's ART adherence, in order to create interventions that are appropriate for increasing ART adherence, which may lead to improved outcomes among women with HIV living in endemic regions with limited treatment access.

Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; adherence; food insecurity; theory of planned behaviour; women.