Discussion of sexual risk behavior in HIV care is infrequent and appears ineffectual: a mixed methods study.

AIDS and behavior

PubMedID: 20981480

Laws MB, Bradshaw YS, Safren SA, Beach MC, Lee Y, Rogers W, Wilson IB. Discussion of sexual risk behavior in HIV care is infrequent and appears ineffectual: a mixed methods study. AIDS Behav. 2011;15(4):812-22.
Consensus guidelines in HIV care call for clinicians to provide a brief sexual risk behavioral intervention in each visit. Studies based on participant reports find this occurs infrequently, but studies based on direct observation of clinical encounters are lacking. We conducted a mixed method study that used audio recordings of 116 routine outpatient visits by 58 different patients with HIV, in five different practice sites. Transcripts of the visits were coded and analyzed using a quantitative system. In addition, we conducted a qualitative analysis of the dialogue segments in which sexual risk behaviors arose as a topic. Discussion of sexual risk behavior occurred in 10 visits, and was generally quite brief. Two visits featured substantial counseling about sexual risk reduction; two others included substantial discussion which was not evidently directed at the patient's changing behavior. Cues suggesting a need or opportunity for such discussion that physicians did not follow up on occurred in seven additional visits. Interactions about sexual risk had less patient engagement than interactions about other health behaviors. Physicians seldom provide sexual risk reduction counseling in HIV care, even where specific indications are present.