Neurocognitive impairment and medication adherence in HIV patients with and without cocaine dependence

Christina S. Meade, Nina A. Conn, Linda M. Skalski, Steven A. Safren

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60 Scopus citations


Cocaine abuse among HIV patients is associated with faster disease progression and mortality. This study examined the relationship between neurocognitive functioning and medication adherence in HIV patients with (n = 25) and without (n = 39) current cocaine dependence. Active users had greater neurocognitive impairment (mean T-score = 35.16 vs. 40.97, p < .05) and worse medication adherence (mean z-score = -0.44 vs. 0.27, p < .001). In a multiple regression model, neurocognitive functioning (β = .33, p < .01) and cocaine dependence (β = -.36, p < .01) were predictive of poorer adherence. There was a significant indirect effect of cocaine dependence on medication adherence through neurocognitive impairment (estimate = -0.15, p < .05), suggesting that neurocognitive impairment partially mediated the relationship between cocaine dependence and poorer adherence. These results confirm that cocaine users are at high risk for poor HIV outcomes and underscore the importance of treating both neurocognitive impairment and cocaine dependence among HIV patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-138
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This study was supported by grants from am-fAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research (106884-42-RFBR), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (T32-DA01536), the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (P30-AI60354), and the Duke University Center for AIDS Research (P30-AI064519). The authors thank Drs. Scott Lukas and Kathleen Sikkema for their mentorship and Mary Key, Jessica Eldridge, Ross MacLean, and Tiffany Chu for their assistance collecting and entering data.


  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Cocaine dependence
  • Medication adherence
  • Neurocognitive functioning

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