Barriers and Facilitators to Interventions Improving Retention in HIV Care: A Qualitative Evidence Meta-Synthesis

Brian J. Hall, Ka Lon Sou, Rachel Beanland, Mellanye Lacky, Lai Sze Tso, Qingyan Ma, Meg Doherty, Joseph D. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Retention in HIV care is vital to the HIV care continuum. The current review aimed to synthesize qualitative research to identify facilitators and barriers to HIV retention in care interventions. A qualitative evidence meta-synthesis utilizing thematic analysis. Prospective review registration was made in PROSPERO and review procedures adhered to PRISMA guidelines. Nineteen databases were searched to identify qualitative research conducted with individuals living with HIV and their caregivers. Quality assessment was conducted using CASP and the certainty of the evidence was evaluated using CERQual. A total of 4419 citations were evaluated and 11 were included in the final meta-synthesis. Two studies were from high-income countries, 3 from middle-income countries, and 6 from low-income countries. A total of eight themes were identified as facilitators or barriers for retention in HIV care intervention: (1) Stigma and discrimination, (2) Fear of HIV status disclosure, (3) task shifting to lay health workers, (4) Human resource and institutional challenges, (5) Mobile Health (mHealth), (6) Family and friend support, (7) Intensive case management, and, (8) Relationships with caregivers. The current review suggests that task shifting interventions with lay health workers were feasible and acceptable. mHealth interventions and stigma reduction interventions appear to be promising interventions aimed at improving retention in HIV care. Future studies should focus on improving the evidence base for these interventions. Additional research is needed among women and adolescents who were under-represented in retention interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1755-1767
Number of pages13
JournalAIDS and behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • ARV
  • Care continuum
  • HIV
  • Meta-synthesis
  • Retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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