International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 105–111 | Cite as

Treatment beliefs, illness perceptions, and non-adherence to antiretroviral therapy in an ethnically diverse patient population

  • Mary Gunther
  • Michelle Foisy
  • Stanley Houston
  • Lisa Guirguis
  • Christine HughesEmail author
Research Article


Background Ethnic diversity is increasingly encountered in the HIV-infected population in North America, and it is unknown if beliefs surrounding illness and treatment vary among different ethnic groups. Objective Our objectives were to determine whether self-reported adherence, illness perceptions and treatment beliefs regarding HIV differ based on ethnicity. Setting This study was conducted during outpatient HIV clinic visits between March 1, 2010 and April 30, 2010 at two hospital-based clinics in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Methods A cross-sectional sample of 65 patients on antiretroviral therapy (34 Caucasian, 23 Aboriginal, and 8 from other ethnic groups) attending hospital-based clinics completed a self-administered survey; medical records were reviewed for demographic and treatment information. Main outcome measure An ANOVA with covariates was performed to measure variation of beliefs and adherence between ethnic groups. Results Mean self-reported adherence in the past week and past month was high (96 %) and the majority of patients (78.5 %) had a viral load <40 copies/mL. Patients had high perceived necessity scores and a low degree of perceived concern with antiretroviral therapy. In our study, treatment beliefs, illness perceptions, and self-reported adherence did not vary between ethnicities (p > 0.05). Conclusion Treatment beliefs, illness perceptions, and adherence appear to be largely similar in English-speaking patients with diverse ethnic backgrounds who have been on treatment for at least 3 months. Strong supports may overcome any cultural differences in treatment beliefs that were expected at the outset.


Aboriginal Antiretroviral Canada Ethnicity HIV Patient adherence 



The authors would like to thank Mr. Suliman Al Ghurair for his assistance with the statistical analysis and Dr. Sheri Koshman for her assistance with project development and her input into the preparation of the manuscript.


This research was funded by internal research funding provided by the University of Alberta.

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Gunther
    • 1
  • Michelle Foisy
    • 2
  • Stanley Houston
    • 3
  • Lisa Guirguis
    • 4
  • Christine Hughes
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Pharmacy ServicesAlberta Health Services, University of Alberta HospitalEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Northern Alberta HIV ProgramAlberta Health Services, Royal Alexandra HospitalEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Division of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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