Does telehealth affect the adherence to ART among patients with HIV? A systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Infect Dis. 2023 Mar 17;23(1):169. doi: 10.1186/s12879-023-08119-w.


Background: Several studies have shown different effects of telehealth interventions on adherence to Antiretroviral therapy (ART) among people living with HIV. This study conducted a meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) to estimate the pooled effect of telehealth interventions on the treatment adherence of HIV patients.

Methods: The researchers conducted literature searches in Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases. In addition, open grey was systematically searched until January 2022 for RCTs around the effects of telehealth on adherence to treatment ART among patients with HIV. Each study's methodological quality was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration tool. Pooled Standard Mean Differences (SMD) and Risk Ratio (RR) with 95% CI were calculated using the random effects model.

Results: In total, 12 eligible articles were considered in the present systematic review. A random-effects meta-analysis using 5 RCTs yielded the pooled RR estimate of 1.18 (95% CI: 1.03 to 1.35, p < 0.05); I2 = 0, suggesting the adherence to treatment among patients with HIV who received telehealth intervention was significantly 18% upper than control groups. Moreover, the random effects analysis of SMD showed a positive effect for telehealth with SMR = 0.36 (95% CI: 0.22 to 0.49, p < 0.05); I2 = 91.9%, indicating that telehealth intervention increased ART adherence to the treatment group compared to the control group.

Conclusion: Telehealth intervention as a new modality of health care service delivery could be a valuable strategy to improve ART adherence among patients with HIV. It can strengthen the capacity of HIV care services. On a large scale, telehealth can be utilized as a supplementary component for ART delivery and retention toward successful adherence to the therapy.

Keywords: Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; Adherence; Antiretroviral therapy (ART); Digital Health; HIV; Meta-analysis; Telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence
  • Odds Ratio
  • Telemedicine*