The Implementation of a Text Messaging Intervention to Improve HIV Continuum of Care Outcomes Among Persons Recently Released From Correctional Facilities: Randomized Controlled Trial

Breana J Uhrig Castonguay, Andrew E Cressman, Irene Kuo, Rudy Patrick, Claudia Trezza, Alice Cates, Halli Olsen, James Peterson, Ann Kurth, Lauri B Bazerman, Curt G Beckwith
2020 JMIR mHealth and uHealth  
Previously incarcerated individuals have suboptimal linkage and engagement in community HIV care. Mobile health (mHealth) interventions have been shown to be effective in addressing these gaps. In Washington, District of Columbia (DC), we conducted a randomized trial of an SMS text messaging–based mHealth intervention (CARE+ Corrections) to increase linkage to community HIV care and antiretroviral treatment adherence among HIV-infected persons involved in the criminal justice system. Objective
more » ... his study aimed to describe the SMS text messaging–based intervention, participant use of the intervention, and barriers and facilitators of implementation. Methods From August 2013 to April 2015, HIV-positive incarcerated individuals were recruited within the DC Department of Corrections, and persons released in the past 6 months were recruited within the community via street-based recruitment, community partnerships, and referrals. Participants were followed for 6 months and received weekly or daily SMS text messages. Formative research resulted in the development of the content of the messages in 4 categories: HIV Appointment Reminders, Medication Adherence, Prevention Reminders, and Barriers to Care following release from jail. Participants could customize the timing, frequency, and message content throughout the study period. Results Of the 112 participants enrolled, 57 (50.9%) were randomized to the intervention group and 55 (49.1%) to the control group; 2 control participants did not complete the baseline visit, and were dropped from the study, leaving a total of 110 participants who contributed to the analyses. Study retention was similar across both study arms. Median age was 42 years (IQR 30-50), 86% (49/57) were black or African American, 58% (33/57) were male, 25% (14/57) were female, and 18% (10/57) were transgender. Median length of last incarceration was 4 months (IQR 1.7-9.0), and median lifetime number of times incarcerated was 6.5 (IQR 3.5-14.0). Most participants (32/54, 59%) had a baseline viral load of <200 copies/mL. Nearly all participants (52/57, 91%) chose to use a cell phone provided by the study. The most preferred Appointment Reminder message was Hey how you feeling? Don't forget to give a call and make your appointment (19/57, 33%). The most preferred Medication Adherence message was Don't forget your skittles! (31/57, 54%), and 63% (36/57) of participants chose to receive daily (vs weekly) messages from this category at baseline. The most preferred Prevention Reminder message was Stay strong. Stay clean (18/57, 32%). The most preferred Barriers to Care message was Holla at your case manager, they're here to help (12/57, 22%). Minor message preference differences were observed among participants enrolled in the jail versus those from the community. Conclusions Participants' ability to customize their SMS text message plan proved helpful. Further large-scale research on mHealth platforms is needed to assess its efficacy among HIV-infected persons with a history of incarceration. Trial Registration NCT01721226;
doi:10.2196/16220 pmid:32053119 pmcid:PMC7055782 fatcat:fbxn7wypsrci7j5qkkwyfu6jem