Cognitive-behavioural interventions for mood and anxiety disorders in HIV: a systematic review

J Affect Disord. 2013 Sep 5;150(2):171-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2013.04.018. Epub 2013 May 17.


Background: Mood and anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and comorbid with HIV/AIDS. However, there is a paucity of research on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural interventions (CBI) for common mental disorders in HIV-infected adults. The present study sought to review the existing literature on the use of CBI for depression and anxiety in HIV-positive adults and to assess the effect size of these interventions.

Methods: We did duplicate searches of databases (from inception to 17-22 May 2012). The following online databases were searched: PubMed, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and PsychArticles.

Results: We identified 20 studies suitable for inclusion. A total of 2886 participants were enroled in these studies, of which 2173 participants completed treatment. The present review of the literature suggests that CBI may be effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety in individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Significant reductions in depression and anxiety were reported in intervention studies that directly and indirectly targeted depression and/or anxiety. Effect sizes ranged from 0.02 to 1.02 for depression and 0.04 to 0.70 for anxiety.

Limitations: Some trials included an immediate postintervention assessment but no follow-up assessments of outcome. This omission makes it difficult to determine whether the intervention effects are sustainable over time.

Conclusion: The present review of the literature suggests that CBI may have a positive impact on the treatment of depression and anxiety in adults living with HIV/AIDS.

Keywords: Anxiety; Cognitive therapy; Depression; HIV/AIDS; Psychotherapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans