Assessment of Adherence to HIV Protease Inhibitors: Comparison and Combination of Various Methods, Including MEMS (Electronic Monitoring), Patient and Nurse Report, and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

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Background:Adherence to protease inhibitor-containing antiretroviral therapy is crucial, but difficult to measure.Objective:To compare and combine various methods of measuring adherence to the strict protease inhibitor-containing regimens.Methods:The following methods were used: medication event monitoring system (MEMS) caps (electronic monitoring), therapeutic drug monitoring, pill count, pharmacy refill data, questionnaires, diaries (for registration of food patterns and special events related to the use of MEMS), adherence assessment by the physician and clinical nurse specialist, and in-depth interviews. In addition, ultrasensitive viral load and resistance testing was performed.Results:Twenty-eight patients were included; data could be evaluated in 26. According to MEMS data, 25% of the patients took fewer than 95% of all doses, and two thirds of the patients took fewer than 95% of the doses on time. Only 43% of the patients showed good adherence with food restrictions. Methods that showed significant correlations with MEMS results were patients' self-reported adherence; therapeutic drug monitoring, indicating plasma levels outside predefined ranges; and estimation of adherence by a clinical nurse specialist, especially by in-depth interview.Conclusion:Diary-corrected MEMS data gave a detailed insight into patients' adherence patterns. Patients' self-report and therapeutic drug monitoring were significantly correlated with the MEMS data, and the clinical nurse specialist may also play a role in identifying patients who are imperfectly adherent.

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