Practical and conceptual challenges in measuring antiretroviral adherence

Karina M. Berg, Julia H. Arnsten

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

248 Scopus citations


Accurate measurement of antiretroviral adherence is essential for targeting and rigorously evaluating interventions to improve adherence and prevent viral resistance. Across diseases, medication adherence is an individual, complex, and dynamic human behavior that presents unique measurement challenges. Measurement of medication adherence is further complicated by the diversity of available measures, which have different utility in clinical and research settings. Limited understanding of how to optimize existing adherence measures has hindered progress in adherence research in HIV and other diseases. Although self-report is the most widely used adherence measure and the most promising for use in clinical care and resource-limited settings, adherence researchers have yet to develop evidence-based standards for self-reported adherence. In addition, the use of objective measures, such as electronic drug monitoring or pill counts, is limited by poor understanding of the source and magnitude of error biasing these measures. To address these limitations, research is needed to evaluate methods of combining information from different measures. The goals of this review are to describe the state of the science of adherence measurement, to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of common adherence measurement methods, and to recommend directions for improving antiretroviral adherence measurement in research and clinical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S79-S87
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Adherence
  • Antiretroviral
  • HIV
  • Measurement
  • Research methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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