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Facilitators and barriers to antiretroviral therapy adherence among adolescents in Ghana

Authors Ankrah D, Koster E, Mantel-Teeuwisse A, Arhinful D, Agyepong I, Lartey M

Received 19 September 2015

Accepted for publication 8 December 2015

Published 15 March 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 329—337


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Daniel NA Ankrah,1,2 Ellen S Koster,2 Aukje K Mantel-Teeuwisse,2 Daniel K Arhinful,3 Irene A Agyepong,4 Margaret Lartey5,6

1Pharmacy Department, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana; 2Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Clinical Pharmacology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), Utrecht, the Netherlands; 3Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana (Legon), 4Health Policy, Planning and Management, University of Ghana School of Public Health, 5Department of Medicine, University of Ghana Medical School, 6Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana

Introduction: Adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) is known to be challenging among adolescents living with HIV/AIDS, notwithstanding the life-saving importance of this therapy. Of the global total number of adolescents living with HIV in 2013, 83% reside in sub-Saharan Africa. The study aimed to identify facilitators of and barriers to antiretroviral treatment adherence among adolescents in Ghana.
Methods: A cross-sectional qualitative study using semi-structured interviews for data collection was carried out among adolescents (aged 12–19 years) at the adolescents HIV clinic at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana. Predominantly open-ended questions relating to ART were used. Interviews were done until saturation. In total, 19 interviews were conducted. Analysis was done manually to maintain proximity with the text.
Findings: The main facilitators were support from health care providers, parental support, patient’s knowledge of disease and self-motivation, patient’s perceived positive outcomes, and dispensed formulation. The identified barriers were patient’s forgetfulness to take medicines, perceived stigmatization due to disclosure, financial barriers, and adverse effects of ART. Support from health care workers was the most frequently mentioned facilitator, and patient’s forgetfulness and perceived stigmatization after disclosure were the most frequently mentioned barriers. Self-motivation (knowledge induced) to adhere to treatment was a specific facilitator among older adolescents.
Conclusion: Continuous information provision in addition to unflinching support from health care workers and parents or guardians may improve adherence among adolescents. Also, interventions to reduce patient forgetfulness may be beneficial. A multi-sectorial approach would be needed to address adolescent disclosure of HIV/AIDS status.

Keywords: qualitative study, forgetfulness, disclosure, parental support, stigmatization

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