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Interactive mobile phone HIV adherence support for men who have sex with men in the Philippines connect for life study: mixed methods approach to intervention development and pilot testing

O'Connor, Cara, Leyritana, Katerina, Doyle, Aoife M., Lewis, James J. ORCID:, Gill, Randeep and Salvaña, Edsel Maurice 2022. Interactive mobile phone HIV adherence support for men who have sex with men in the Philippines connect for life study: mixed methods approach to intervention development and pilot testing. JMIR Formative Research 6 (2) , e30811. 10.2196/30811

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Background: The HIV epidemic in the Philippines is one of the fastest growing epidemics globally, and infections among men who have sex with men are rising at an alarming rate. The World Health Organization recommends the use of mobile health (mHealth) technologies to engage patients in care and ensure high levels of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Existing mHealth interventions can be adapted and tailored to the context and population served. Objective: This study aims to create a locally tailored intervention using a mobile phone platform to support treatment adherence for HIV patients on ART in the Philippines. Methods: A mixed methods approach guided by the Behavior Change Wheel framework was used to adapt an existing mHealth adherence support platform for the local setting and target population. A literature review, retrospective clinical record review, and focus group discussions with patients were conducted to understand the drivers of ART adherence and tailor the intervention accordingly. The resulting intervention was pilot-tested for 8 weeks, followed by focus group discussions with patients who received the intervention to assess the acceptability of the design. Results: Key issues contributing to nonadherence included side effects, lack of behavioral skills for pill taking, social support, mental health, and substance use. Patients identified mHealth as an acceptable mode of intervention delivery and wanted mHealth services to be highly personalizable. The study team, clinicians, and software developers integrated these findings into the intervention, which included a menu of services as follows: pill reminders, health tips, adherence feedback, appointment reminders, and symptom reporting. During the pilot phase, technical issues in the interactive voice response system (IVRS) were identified and addressed. Patients who participated in the pilot phase expressed a preference for SMS text messaging over the IVRS. Patients responded positively to the appointment reminders and health tips, whereas patient feedback on daily and weekly pill reminders and adherence feedback was mixed. Conclusions: The mobile phone–based SMS text messaging and IVRS intervention was acceptable to men who have sex with men in Manila, the Philippines, and qualitative analysis suggested that the intervention helped promote ART adherence and appointment attendance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
ISSN: 2561-326X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 February 2022
Date of Acceptance: 8 December 2021
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 18:49

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