Studies Find Few Differences in Health Outcomes for HIV-Positive Patients Cared for by Nurses Versus Doctors
August 11, 2008
HIV-positive patients who receive care from trained nurses fare just as well as those who are treated by physicians, according to two studies released at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, Reuters reports.
After a year, patients in both groups were medically stable and had the virus under the same level of control. Humphreys said, "They get holistic care at the local clinic level with people they know and were comfortable with," adding, "More people at the clinics expressed their confidence in the ability to start to manage their own conditions than the people who attended the hospitals with all their doctors and facilities."
In a second, larger study in Mozambique, nurses in two public hospitals cared for 69% of 6,006 patients, while physicians cared for the rest, Reuters reports. The nurses took on more work, including reading laboratory results, identifying those who needed to start antiretrovirals, writing prescriptions and managing treatment of patients, as well as side effects. Both groups showed no difference in their health and viral loads after a year.
Kenneth Sherr of Health Alliance International, who conducted the study, said, "There was comparable level of quality of (nurses) and physicians in terms of HIV care and treatment." According to Sherr, patients under the care of nurses took their drugs more faithfully. "Doctors are managers and see a lot of different types of patients. ... [N]urses are more available and provide the bulk of care," Sherr added.
According to the researchers, questions such as nurses' feelings about the additional duties and whether they needed to shift some of their own duties to other staff members to care for HIV patients, need to be answered (Tan, Reuters, 8/7).
Kaisernetwork.org was the official webcaster of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.