Efficacy of group psychotherapy to reduce depressive symptoms among HIV-infected individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2007 Oct;21(10):732-9. doi: 10.1089/apc.2007.0012.


Depressed mood is highly prevalent among HIV-infected individuals. Some but not all studies have found group psychotherapy to be efficacious in this population. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blinded, randomized controlled trials to examine efficacy of group psychotherapy treatment among HIV infected with depressive symptoms. We used PubMed, the Cochrane database, and a search of bibliographies to find controlled clinical trials with random assignment to group psychotherapy or control condition among HIV infected patients with depressive symptoms. The principal measure of effect size was the standard difference between means on validated depression inventories. We identified 8 studies that included 665 subjects: 5 used cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), 2 used supportive therapy, and 1 used coping effectiveness training. Three of the 8 studies reported significant effects. The pooled effect size from the random effects model was 0.38 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.23-0.53) representing a moderate effect. Heterogeneity of effect was not found to be significant (p = 0.69; I(2) = 0%). Studies reporting use of group CBT had a pooled effect size from the random effects model of 0.37 (95% CI: 0.18-0.56) and was significant. Studies reporting the use of group supportive psychotherapy had a pooled effect size from the random effects model 0.58 (95% CI: -0.05-1.22) and was nonsignificant. The results of this study suggest that group psychotherapy is efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms among, HIV-infected individuals. Of note, women were nearly absent from all studies. Future studies should be directed at addressing this disparity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Treatment Outcome