Substance use and the quality of patient-provider communication in HIV clinics

P. Todd Korthuis, Somnath Saha, Geetanjali Chander, Dennis McCarty, Richard D. Moore, Jonathan A. Cohn, Victoria L. Sharp, Mary Catherine Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to estimate the influence of substance use on the quality of patient-provider communication during HIV clinic encounters. Patients were surveyed about unhealthy alcohol and illicit drug use and rated provider communication quality. Audiorecorded encounters were coded for specific communication behaviors. Patients with vs. without unhealthy alcohol use rated the quality of their provider's communication lower; illicit drug user ratings were comparable to nonusers. Visit length was shorter, with fewer activating/engaging and psychosocial counseling statements for those with vs. without unhealthy alcohol use. Providers and patients exhibited favorable communication behaviors in encounters with illicit drug users vs. non-users, demonstrating greater evidence of patient-provider engagement. The quality of patient-provider communication was worse for HIV-infected patients with unhealthy alcohol use but similar or better for illicit drug users compared with non-users. Interventions should be developed that encourage providers to actively engage patients with unhealthy alcohol use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-841
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS and behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Alcoholism
  • Communication
  • HIV
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Quality of health care
  • Substance-related disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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