Background: Chronic pain and heavy drinking commonly co-occur and can influence the course of HIV. There have been no interventions designed to address both of these conditions among people living with HIV (PLWH), and none that have used telehealth methods. The purpose of this study was to better understand pain symptoms, patterns of alcohol use, treatment experiences, and technology use among PLWH in order to tailor a telehealth intervention that addresses these conditions.
Subjects: Ten participants with moderate or greater chronic pain and heavy drinking were recruited from a cohort of patients engaged in HIV-care (Boston Alcohol Research Collaborative on HIV/AIDS Cohort) and from an integrated HIV/primary care clinic at a large urban hospital.
Methods: One-on-one interviews were conducted with participants to understand experiences and treatment of HIV, chronic pain, and alcohol use. Participants' perceptions of the influence of alcohol on HIV and chronic pain were explored as was motivation to change drinking. Technology use and treatment preferences were examined in the final section of the interview. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and uploaded into NVivo® v12 software for analysis. A codebook was developed based on interviews followed by thematic analysis in which specific meanings were assigned to codes. Interviews were supplemented with Likert-response items to evaluate components of the proposed intervention.
Results: A number of themes were identified that had implications for intervention tailoring including: resilience in coping with HIV; autonomy in health care decision-making; coping with pain, stress, and emotion; understanding treatment rationale; depression and social withdrawal; motives to drink and refrain from drinking; technology use and capacity; and preference for intervention structure and style. Ratings of intervention components indicated that participants viewed each of the proposed intervention content areas as "helpful" to "very helpful". Videoconferencing was viewed as an acceptable modality for intervention delivery.
Conclusions: Results helped specify treatment targets and provided information about how to enhance intervention delivery. The interviews supported the view that videoconferencing is an acceptable telehealth method of addressing chronic pain and heavy drinking among PLWH.
Keywords: Alcohol; Chronic pain; HIV; Heavy drinking; Self-management.