To pilot a peer-based intervention for people living with HIV who used substances, had challenges with antiretroviral adherence and would be discharged from hospital to community.
A community-based, quasi-experimental pilot intervention study designed to assess feasibility, acceptability and connection to a community-based HIV organisation.
This study was conducted in Toronto, Canada, at Casey House (CH; hospital for people living with HIV) in collaboration with the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT; community-based HIV organisation).
People living with HIV who were CH inpatient between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, struggled with antiretroviral adherence, actively used substances and would be discharged to community were eligible. Forty people met criteria, 19 were approached by an inpatient nurse and 17 consented. Average age was 48.8 years (SD=11.4), 58.8% were male and participants averaged 7.8 physical and mental health comorbidities (SD=3.1).
Titled ’The ART of Conversation', the three-pronged personalised intervention was developed through input from CH clients and ACT volunteers, all living with HIV. Intervention components were (a) predischarge goal-setting (adherence, substance use and self-identified goal) with the study nurse; (b) predischarge meeting with an HIV+ peer volunteer (PV) and (c) nine postdischarge phone calls between PV and participant, once per day for 3 days, then once per week for 6 weeks.
Feasibility was measured through proportion of eligible participants recruited and PV availability. Acceptability was assessed through participant interviews at three times (preintervention, post-intervention and 6 weeks follow-up) and through PV call logs. Client records determined connection to ACT within the study timeframe.
Twelve participants completed the intervention and nine connected with ACT. Predischarge goal-setting and PV meeting were both feasible and acceptable. Postdischarge phone calls were a challenge as half of completers missed at least one call.
Although predischarge goal-setting and PV meeting were feasible, methods to maintain connection following discharge require further investigation.