Reducing non-injection drug use in HIV primary care: A randomized trial of brief motivational interviewing, with and without HealthCall, a technology-based enhancement

Efrat Aharonovich, Aaron Sarvet, Malki Stohl, Don DesJarlais, Susan Tross, Teresa Hurst, Antonio Urbina, Deborah Hasin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims In HIV-infected individuals, non-injection drug use (NIDU) compromises many health outcomes. In HIV primary care, the efficacy of brief motivational interviewing (MI) to reduce NIDU is unknown, and drug users may need greater intervention. We designed an enhancement to MI, HealthCall (HC), for daily patient self-monitoring calls to an interactive voice response (IVR) phone system, and provided participants with periodic personalized feedback. To reduce NIDU among HIV primary care patients, we compared the efficacy of MI + HealthCall to MI-only and an educational control condition. Design Participants age > 18 with > 4 days of NIDU during the prior 30 days were recruited from large urban HIV primary care clinics. Of the 240 participants, 83 were randomly assigned to control, 77 to MI-only, and 80 to MI + HC. Counselors provided educational control, MI-only or MI + HC at baseline. At 30 and 60 days (end-of-treatment), counselors briefly discussed drug use, moods and health behaviors, using HealthCall-generated graphs with MI + HC patients. Primary outcomes (last 30 days) were number of days used primary drug (NumDU), and total quantity of primary drug used (dollar amount spent; QuantU), derived from the Time-Line Follow-Back. Findings Across all groups, at end-of-treatment, frequency and quantity of NIDU decreased, with significantly greater reductions in the MI-Only group. A twelve-month post-treatment follow-up indicated sustained benefits of MI + HC and MI-only relative to control. Conclusions Brief interventions can be successfully used to reduce non-injection drug use in HIV primary care. IVR-based technology may not be sufficiently engaging to be effective. Future studies should investigate mobile technology to deliver a more engaging version of HealthCall to diverse substance abusing populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017



  • Drug use
  • HIV
  • IVR intervention
  • Motivational interviewing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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