HIV Patient Characteristics that Affect Adherence to Exercise Programmes: An Observational Study

Andrea Petróczi*, 1, 2, Kim Hawkins3, Gareth Jones3, Declan P Naughton1
1 Kingston University, Faculty of Science, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE, UK
2 Department of Psychology, The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
3 Guy’s and St Thomas' Hospital NHS Trust, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, UK

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© Petróczi et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Kingston University, Faculty of Science, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE, UK; Tel: +44(0)208 417 2436 Fax: +44(0)208 41 7497; E-mail:



Benefits of exercise for HIV-infected persons have been documented, although in clinical practice, diminished adherence to exercise limits the effectiveness of this auxiliary treatment. Exercise intervention studies carry the caveat that the results are limited to volunteers with good compliance and completion profiles.


This study aimed to identify characteristics contributing to adherence vs non-adherence to prescribed supervised 10-week 75-minute aerobic and progressive resistance exercise programme in a clinical setting that requires twice-weekly attendance at the physiotherapy gym.

Study Design:

This observational study was comprised of 11 males and 11 females, physician-assessed, HIV seropositive patients referred to exercise programmes in a tertiary multi-disciplinary outpatient service for HIV patients at an urban Teaching Hospital in London (UK). Measurements taken prior to the exercise programme were used as dependent variables and include CD4 count, fitness level, flexibility and perceived physical-, emotional-, functional- and psychological- well-being. Attendance records were categorised into a dichotomous independent variable of adherence based on a natural break that occurred at 8/20 attended sessions.


Prior-to-treatment differences in perceived physical, functional and psychological well-being exist between adherent and non-adherent patients, but no differences were found in age, CD4 count or fitness level. Perceived well-being explained 55.7% of the variances in attendance. Gender and reason for referral appear to be independent of adherence, whereas ethnicity may play an influential role.


Perceived well-being appears to differentiate between adherent and non-adherent patients. Further studies are required to investigate other psychological characteristics and barriers to maintaining exercise.

Keywords: HIV patient, exercise programme, adherence..