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Specialist nurses win prize for research on supporting HIV patients

A team of nurse researchers have won recognition for their work examining the support HIV patients need to take essential antiretroviral drugs.

The team, based on Sheffield, won first prize at the National HIV Nurses Association’s annual conference in Cardiff for a poster presentation highlighting their key research findings.

During their qualitative study, 23 HIV patients were asked about the support they required to take the antiretroviral drugs that are essential for stopping their condition deteriorating – but which can a challenge for patients due to the quantity and frequency with which they need to be taken.   

“It recognises the importance of understanding what patients need from health care services to enable them to manage their HIV successfully”

Gill Bell

For example, patients found support from staff was most helpful when it was based on listening to individual concerns and working collaboratively to find a solution.

One study participant, who did not like taking tablets, said: “The nurse… bless her… tried and tried and tried for me, and she got to this regime that two of these tablets were dissolvable.”

Respondents also said they valued support in helping them develop a pill taking regime that was compatible with their routines and lifestyle. Those with a daily routine favoured an events-based approach, while those who lacked a fixed daily routine, perhaps because they were shift workers, used a timing-based approach.

The prize-winning team included Dr Hilary Piercy, a principal lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University’s department of nursing and midwifery, and Gill Bell, a nurse consultant sexual health adviser at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Ms Bell said: “We are delighted to have won this award because it recognises the importance of understanding what patients need from health care services to enable them to manage their HIV successfully.

“This study identified essential components of adherence support and provided insights into the patient experience, which will enable us to better inform and guide service delivery in the future,” she said.

Dr Piercy added that the project had resulted from a “very effective collaboration” between the university and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ sexual health services.

“We have built on this success by securing funding for a national study into HIV care,” she said.

The conference took place at the end of June. The National HIV Nurses Association is the leading UK professional association representing nurses in HIV care.

  • Download a PDF of the team’s poster presentation (top-right)

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