A Pilot Gaming Adherence Program for Youth Living With HIV

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Adherence to HIV Treatment and Medication


Behavioral: IMB Gaming Adherence Intervention
Behavioral: Enhanced treatment as usual

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


This study will develop and test a novel, technology based intervention to improve treatment adherence among youth living with HIV who are taking antiretroviral medication. In the intervention youth will access an engaging and immersive app/game on their smartphone.Data about the opening of the smart pill bottle will be transferred from the bottle cap wirelessly and will trigger a text message about their adherence. While gaming, participants will gain information about their health, improve motivation for ARV and medical appointment adherence, and practice healthy behaviors. If the Intervention is found to be effective, it can be tested in a larger study and then disseminated to other youth on antiretroviral medications.

Full description

Despite need for consistent adherence to medical care, youth living with HIV (YLWH) have suboptimal rates of retention in care and adherence to antiretroviral medication (ARV) treatment. There are few adherence studies with YLWH and the results are mixed, so there is a great need for the development of novel interventions. Results of adult HIV adherence studies indicate that participants are interested in using technology-based methods and are most receptive toward interventions that couple technological devices with motivational components. Pill taking monitoring devices have been found to be a sensitive measure of adherence to ARV medications, but do not lead to sustained improvements in adherence or intrinsic motivation when used alone. Building on this knowledge, this study will examine a multi-level technology that integrates a medication monitoring device WITH an interactive smartphone based app/game that is attractive and engaging to YLWH. This multi-level approach will integrate theory driven content with novel, but intuitive, technology to improve HIV treatment adherence. In this study, data on opening of the pill bottle will be transferred wirelessly from the bottle cap and a text on adherence sent to the phone. This developmental project will adapt and refine a smartphone app/game to include content consistent with the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) Model. Creation and adaptation will occur from in-depth interviews with YLWH on ART (n=25) and an open trial of the Intervention (n=20). While gaming, participants will experience absorbing action-oriented adventures that increase information about their health (e.g. knowledge about HIV treatment), improve motivation (e.g. action-figures experience health benefits of adherence), and build skills (e.g. utilize clinicians as partners). A small randomized controlled pilot study (24 weeks) among 60 YLWH will examine the preliminary efficacy of the IMB Gaming Adherence Intervention (integration of the smart cap with the IMB informed app/game) compared to a comparison group who receive the smart cap and smartphone but no IMB game, on adherence and biological measures.


66 patients




14 to 26 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • English speaking
  • in medical care for HIV and receiving antiretroviral treatment
  • aware of their HIV status as per clinician and clinical record
  • able to give consent/assent and not impaired by cognitive or medical limitations as per clinical assessment
  • detectable viral load

Exclusion criteria


Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

66 participants in 2 patient groups

IMB Gaming Adherence Intervention
Experimental group
Combination of smart pill bottle cap with mobile gaming application tailored for those living with HIV
Behavioral: IMB Gaming Adherence Intervention
Enhanced treatment as usual
Active Comparator group
Smart pill bottle cap and mobile phone but no game
Behavioral: Enhanced treatment as usual

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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