3 years ago

Active ingredients of a person-centred intervention for people on HIV treatment: analysis of mixed methods trial data

Irene J. Higginson, Victoria Simms, Richard Harding, Nancy Gikaara, Lucy Ellen Selman, Aabid Ahmed, Hellen Kariuki, Keira Lowther, Lorraine Sherr, Zipporah Ali



A new model of care is required to meet the changing needs of people living with HIV (PLWH), particularly in low and middle-income countries, where prevalence is highest. We evaluated a palliative care intervention for PLWH in Mombasa, Kenya. Although we found no effect on pain (primary outcome), there was a positive effect on mental health (secondary outcome) in the intervention group. To inform replication and implementation, we have determined the active ingredients of the intervention and their mechanisms of action.


We conducted a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with qualitative exit interviews in HIV clinic attenders. The intervention was delivered over 5 months, with a minimum of 7 clinical contacts. Longitudinal quantitative data on components of care received were analysed using area under the curve and logistic regression. Qualitative data were analysed using inductive and deductive thematic analysis.


Quantitative data analysis identified that intervention patients received more weak opioid, laxatives, discussion about spiritual worries, emotional support from staff for themselves and their families, time to talk about worries, discussion about future and planning ahead. Qualitative data analysis found that patients reported that having time to talk, appropriate pain medication and effective health education was of therapeutic value for their psychological well-being. Integration of mixed method findings suggest that positive effect in quantitative measures of mental health and well-being are attributable to the active ingredients of: appropriate medication, effective health education and counselling, and having time to talk in clinical encounters. Mechanisms of action include symptom relief, improved understanding of illness and treatment, and support focused on articulated concerns.


Routine care must provide opportunities and means for existing clinical staff to make routine appointments more person-centred. This approach enabled staff to identify and manage multidimensional problems and provide tailored health education and counselling.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01608802). Registered 12th May 2012.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12879-017-2900-0

DOI: 10.1186/s12879-017-2900-0

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