Advances in medical treatment for HIV are driving major changes in HIV policy and practice, including the encouragement of intake and adherence to HIV antiretroviral treatment (ART) by people living with HIV (PLHIV) for both personal and public health benefits. However, there is increasing recognition that achieving these goals will require a concurrent focus on the broader psychological and social wellbeing of PLHIV. Increasingly calls are being been made to incorporate a stronger focus on quality of life (QoL) of PLHIV into HIV prevention policy.
In order to achieve this goal, HIV community, support and healthcare services need a valid, short and practical way to evaluate QoL of PLHIV accessing their programs. Current QoL measures are either long, complex, restricted in their use, or expensive. To address these shortcomings, the PozQoL study aimed to develop, test and validate a short and freely available scale assessing QoL among PLHIV.
Drawing on a literature review, the prioritisation of domains and development of the initial pool of items was conducted in consultation with PLHIV community organisations in Australia. The items covered health concerns, psychological, social, and functional wellbeing. Testing involved a baseline and a follow-up survey of 465 adult Australians living with HIV. Participants were recruited through social media and various community organizations nationwide. The survey included the pilot PozQoL scale and other validated measures of health and wellbeing.
Guided by an Exploratory Factor Analysis and conceptual considerations, a 13-item scale was developed. The PozQoL scale demonstrated high levels of fit in a Confirmatory Factor Analysis, very good internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and concurrent validity with other measures that approximated different aspects of QoL.
The PozQoL scale has been tested in a diverse sample of adult PLHIV living in Australia, demonstrating very good reliability and validity. The insights from PLHIV and other stakeholders supported the balancing of statistical rigour and conceptual accuracy. The scale is now ready to be implemented and field-tested across a range of community, support and healthcare programs for PLHIV. This will make a significant contribution to the evaluation and enhancement of programs for PLHIV.