Flexible rigidity: Supporting HIV treatment adherence in a rapidly-changing treatment environment

David A. Rier, Debbie Indyk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper examines adherence to AIDS treatment, focusing on the challenges posed by rapidly changing treatment protocols. We examine the evolving views of treatment adherence, and endorse the "concordance" approach. This emphasizes collaboration and negotiation between provider and patient to formulate and maintain a manageable treatment regimen tailored to what the patient is ready, willing, and able to tolerate. Given the extreme rapidity with which treatment guidelines are revised or even reversed, the persistent uncertainty surrounding treatment risks and benefits, and the great variability in individuals' ability to tolerate a given regimen, we propose the term "flexible rigidity" to describe the type of adherence best suited to AIDS treatment. We present an organizational approach to supporting the type of provider-patient relationships needed to improve treatment adherence that features treatment-readiness assessment and custom-tailoring of treatment for those at all stages of the treatment-readiness continuum. We note that this model could be applied as well to prevention and management of other chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-150
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 25 Apr 2006


  • AIDS treatment
  • Adherence
  • Chronic illness
  • Clinical treatment guidelines
  • Concordance


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