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24-03-2017 | Uitgave 7/2017 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 7/2017

Risks associated with antiretroviral treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): qualitative analysis of social media data and health state utility valuation

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 7/2017
Louis S. Matza, Karen C. Chung, Katherine J. Kim, Trena M. Paulus, Evan W. Davies, Katie D. Stewart, Grace A. McComsey, Marshall W. Fordyce



Despite benefits of antiretroviral therapies (ART), people with HIV infection have increased risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and low bone mineral density. Some ARTs increase risk of these events. The purpose of this study was to examine patients’ perspectives of these risks and estimate health state utilities associated with these risks for use in cost-utility models.


Qualitative thematic analysis was conducted to examine messages posted to the POZ/AIDSmeds Internet community forums, focusing on bone, kidney, and cardiovascular side effects and risks of HIV/AIDS medications. Then, health state vignettes were drafted based on this qualitative analysis, literature review, and clinician interviews. The health states (representing HIV, plus treatment-related risks) were valued in time trade-off interviews with general population participants in the UK.


Qualitative analysis of the Internet forums documented patient concerns about ART risks, as well as treatment decisions made because of these risks. A total of 208 participants completed utility interviews (51.4% female; mean age 44.6 years). The mean utility of the HIV health state (virologically suppressed, treated with ART) was 0.86. Adding a description of risk resulted in statistically significant disutility (i.e., utility decreases): renal risk (disutility = −0.02), bone risk (−0.03), and myocardial infarction risk (−0.05).


Patient concerns and treatment decisions were documented via qualitative analysis of Internet forum discussions, and the impact of these concerns was quantified in terms of health state utilities. The resulting disutilities may be useful for differentiating among ARTs in economic modeling of treatment for patients with HIV.

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