Impact of a Family Clinic Day intervention on paediatric and adolescent appointment adherence and retention in antiretroviral therapy: A cluster randomized controlled trial in Uganda
In 2013, Uganda adopted a test-and-treat policy for HIV patients 15 years or younger. Low retention rates among paediatric and adolescent antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiates could severely limit the impact of this new policy. This evaluation tested the impact of a differentiated care model called Family Clinic Day (FCD), a family-centered appointment scheduling and health education intervention on patient retention and adherence to monthly appointment scheduling.
We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial, from October 2014 to March 2015. Forty-six facilities were stratified by implementing partner and facility type and randomly assigned to the control or intervention arm. Primary outcomes included the proportion of patients retained in care at 6 months and the proportion adherent to their appointment schedule at last study period scheduled visit. Data collection occurred retrospectively in May 2015. Six patient focus group discussions and 17 health workers interviews were conducted to understand perspectives on FCD successes and challenges.
A total of 4,715 paediatric and adolescent patient records were collected, of which 2,679 (n = 1,319 from 23 control facilities and 1,360 from 23 intervention facilities) were eligible for inclusion. The FCD did not improve retention (aOR 1.11; 90% CI 0.63–1.97, p = 0.75), but was associated with improved adherence to last appointment schedule (aOR 1.64; 90% CI 1.27–2.11, p<0.001). Qualitative findings suggested that FCD patients benefited from health education and increased psychosocial support.
FCD scale-up in Uganda may be an effective differentiated care model to ensure patient adherence to ART clinic appointment schedules, a key aspect necessary for viral load suppression. Patient health outcomes may also benefit following an increase in knowledge based on health education, and peer support. Broad challenges facing ART clinics, such as under-staffing and poor filing systems, should be addressed in order to improve patient care.