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Information seeking among veterans managing antiretroviral medications

Hogan TP, Rintamaki LS, Weaver FM. Information seeking among veterans managing antiretroviral medications. Presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2009 Feb 12; Baltimore, MD.

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Objectives: Antiretroviral regimens are a complex approach used to treat chronic disease. Research has revealed the importance of information to antiretroviral regimen management and health outcomes among the HIV-positive community; however, less is known about the preferences that HIV-positive veterans have for information about antiretroviral medications and the ways in which they gather and use it. This study was conducted to better understand the role of information seeking and use in the management of antiretroviral medications among HIV-positive veterans. Methods: We held two semi-structured focus groups followed by 45 individual semi-structured interviews (N = 50) with HIV-positive veterans receiving care at two Midwest VA hospitals. All focus group and interview sessions were audio-recorded and subsequently transcribed. Data analysis is proceeding through constant comparative techniques to identify focal themes and construct a categorical system grounded in and representative of the data. Results: All participants were male, 58% were African American, 38% were white, 62% identified as heterosexual, and the mean age was 48.1 years. Most participants found it easy to access information about antiretroviral medications and described gathering it primarily from healthcare providers, and from others with HIV disease, family members and friends, print sources, the Internet, and local agencies. Topics addressed included strategies for managing regimens, coping with adverse effects, and treatment advances. Many participants had supportive others who helped collect, organize, and make sense of such information. Personal collections of antiretroviral medication information were commonly reported; however, illness-related stigma substantially influenced decisions to have and use this information. Implications: Seeking and using information are important aspects of antiretroviral regimen management. The centrality of healthcare providers as an information source must be recognized, as must the collaborative aspects of information seeking and the complicating influence of illness-related stigma. Impacts: VA is working to empower veterans to become active participants in their healthcare through the My HealtheVet personal health record and other informatics applications. Findings from this study highlight the types of information that should be made available through such systems, the range of activities that they should support, and factors that may shape their use.

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