Comparing a standard and tailored approach to scaling up an evidence-based intervention for antiretroviral therapy for people who inject drugs in Vietnam: study protocol for a cluster randomized hybrid type III trial

Implement Sci. 2020 Aug 8;15(1):64. doi: 10.1186/s13012-020-01020-z.


Background: People who inject drugs (PWID) bear a disproportionate burden of HIV infection and experience poor outcomes. A randomized trial demonstrated the efficacy of an integrated System Navigation and Psychosocial Counseling (SNaP) intervention in improving HIV outcomes, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) and medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) uptake, viral suppression, and mortality. There is limited evidence about how to effectively scale such intervention. This protocol presents a hybrid type III effectiveness-implementation trial comparing two approaches for scaling-up SNaP. We will evaluate the effectiveness of SNaP implementation approaches as well as cost and the characteristics of HIV testing sites achieving successful or unsuccessful implementation of SNaP in Vietnam.

Methods: Design: In this cluster randomized controlled trial, two approaches to scaling-up SNaP for PWID in Vietnam will be compared. HIV testing sites (n = 42) were randomized 1:1 to the standard approach or the tailored approach. Intervention mapping was used to develop implementation strategies for both arms. The standard arm will receive a uniform package of these strategies, while implementation strategies for the tailored arm will be designed to address site-specific needs.

Participants: HIV-positive PWID participants (n = 6200) will be recruited for medical record assessment at baseline; of those, 1500 will be enrolled for detailed assessments at baseline, 12, and 24 months. Site directors and staff at each of the 42 HIV testing sites will complete surveys at baseline, 12, and 24 months.

Outcomes: Implementation outcomes (fidelity, penetration, acceptability) and effectiveness outcomes (ART, MOUD uptake, viral suppression) will be compared between the arms. To measure incremental costs, we will conduct an empirical costing study of each arm and the actual process of implementation from a societal perspective. Qualitative and quantitative site-level data will be used to explore key characteristics of HIV testing sites that successfully or unsuccessfully implement the intervention for each arm.

Discussion: Scaling up evidence-based interventions poses substantial challenges. The proposed trial contributes to the field of implementation science by applying a systematic approach to designing and tailoring implementation strategies, conducting a rigorous comparison of two promising implementation approaches, and assessing their incremental costs. Our study will provide critical guidance to Ministries of Health worldwide regarding the most effective, cost-efficient approach to SNaP implementation.

Trial registration: NCT03952520 on Registered 16 May 2019.

Keywords: Cost-effectiveness; Economic evaluation; HIV; Implementation science; Implementation strategies; Intervention; Intervention mapping; People who inject drugs; Psychosocial counseling; System navigation; Tailoring implementation strategies; Vietnam.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vietnam


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations

Associated data