Meta-analysis of cognitive-behavioral interventions on HIV-positive persons' mental health and immune functioning

Health Psychol. 2008 Jan;27(1):4-14. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.27.1.4.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral interventions (CBIs) for improving the mental health and immune functioning of people living with HIV (PLWH).

Design: Comprehensive searches of electronic databases from 1988 to 2005, hand searches of journals, reference lists of articles, and contacts with researchers. Meta-analytic approaches were used in synthesizing findings.

Main outcome measures: Intervention effects on symptoms of depression, anxiety, and anger, stress, and CD4 cell counts were assessed.

Results: Data from 15 controlled trials were analyzed. Significant intervention effects were observed for improving symptoms of depression (d = 0.33), anxiety (d = 0.30), anger (d = 1.00), and stress (d = 0.43). There is limited evidence suggesting intervention effects on CD4 cell counts (d = 0.08). The aggregated effect size estimates for depression and anxiety were statistically significant in trials that provided stress management skills training and had more than 10 intervention sessions.

Conclusion: CBIs are efficacious in improving various psychological states of PLWH. Future research should examine the relationship among interventions, psychological states, medication adherence, and immune functions, and identify other relevant factors associated with intervention effects.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depression
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / immunology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States