Health care provider collaboration benefits patients with HIV

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Health care providers who receive on-the-job training and collaborate with other professionals are more likely to help patients access HIV testing and primary care, both of which help decrease transmission, researchers report.

In a longitudinal study, researchers examined how interprofessional collaboration among social workers, educators, and other health providers and on-the-job training affects HIV testing and HIV primary care.

Some vulnerable individuals may not seek care because they experience stigma in the health care system, they may distrust health providers, or they may lack information and/or insurance. But with collaborative approaches, health providers can help these individuals, the researchers say.

“Interpersonal collaboration and linkage training can improve the initial steps of the HIV care continuum, HIV testing and primary care, and thus improve viral suppression,” says Rogério Pinto, professor of social work at the University of Michigan and lead author of the paper, published in AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV.

The study’s sample included 285 New York City providers of social and public health services in 34 agencies. Researchers asked them about the number of patients they linked to HIV testing, as well as connecting them to primary care within the last six months.

The findings show that about one-fourth of providers had not made linkages to HIV testing and primary care. However, 33% reported recent in-agency linkage training to help patients access HIV testing and HIV primary care, and about 30% had linked 20 or more patients to HIV testing or primary care in the previous six months.

The more providers actively engage in linking patients to HIV testing and primary care, the sooner these patients will have access to medication to combat HIV and achieve viral suppression.

Health care administrators might strengthen providers’ connections across service settings by providing interagency training to help providers build interprofessional collaboration.

Additional coauthors are from the University of Michigan and Columbia University.

Source: University of Michigan