Back in Botswana

14 01 2011

By Paul Sonenthal

Happy New Year to everyone!

Things are just getting starting back up here in Botswana after I some took time off to celebrate the start of 2011 with family and friends back in the United States.

The first few days of my return have been spent working on data analysis for an abstract I’m hoping to submit this Sunday. Basically, I am looking at adherence data from about 100 patients on antiretrovirals and trying to see if there are any patterns among the patients who have less than optimal adherence rates i.e. below 90-95%.

For a moment two nights ago, I was convinced that I had made a startling discovery. My data analysis software spit out a table showing that patients who receive a two week supply of antiretroviral medications have a median adherence rate of approximately 50% while for patients who receive a one month supply it was 100%. But, after getting excited and calling my mentor, he suggested a much more reasonable interpretation—that I was only including data from one month follow-up visits while excluding data from two-week visits. In other words, for patients with two-week supplies, data were missing for every other visit they made to the clinic.

In retrospect, this was a pretty obvious explanation, but I guess I was hoping to find something significant, so perhaps I didn’t pause long enough to consider the alternatives when I saw the data on my computer. And of course, in the end, it’s much better that patients are actually taking their medications.

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