Tom Ngabirano, PhD

Tom Ngabirano_photo

Nominated From: University of Minnesota

Research Site: Uganda

Research Area: Psychosocial aspects of HIV, adherence to ART, treatment outcomes and well-being.

Primary Mentor: Cheryl Robertson

Research Project


Efficacy of a mobile telephone delivered psychosocial adaptation intervention to improve well-being and treatment outcomes of HIV infected persons in fishing communities in Uganda


Although access to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) has led to improvement in the longevity of Persons Living with HIV (PLWH), PLWH still struggle to psychosocially adapt to their HIV status, and are more likely to suffer from psychological distress, and impaired quality of life. PLWH who have psychosocial problems often experience increased difficulty with adhering to their ART regimen, yet poor adherence is related with worse treatment outcomes. Psychosocial problems in HIV are also associated with poor engagement and retention in care and the associated poor treatment outcomes. PLWH in fishing communities are particularly vulnerable to psychosocial challenges due to the mobile nature of their job, social and geographical isolation from family and health system resources, and lack of social support resources. The current psychosocial support provided to PLWH is limited to the time when the patients have come for clinic visits which are usually scheduled once every two months. There is need to test innovative psychosocial interventions that can be utilized to reach PLWH in fishing communities during the time when they are not at the treatment site. The purpose of this study is to evaluate a mobile telephone delivered intervention to foster psychosocial well-being and improve treatment outcomes of PLWH from fishing communities.


Research Significance

This telephone delivered intervention should bridge the treatment gap for mental health problems; especially for HIV infected mobile populations and other people in resource limited settings who perceive mental health symptoms as part of the disease process. Such people also have a tendency to wait and see. The global widespread availability of mobile networks, the increasing phone ownership in general, and the delivery of the intervention by non-mental health specialist make this intervention feasible, scalable and cost-effective with a high potential for global utilization. Once found to be useful, this intervention can even be delivered by peers thus making it highly affordable with potential application to sustain engagement with patients infected with HIV as well as other chronic conditions.


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