Posttraumatic growth among people living with HIV: A systematic review

J Psychosom Res. 2018 Nov:114:81-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2018.09.006. Epub 2018 Sep 14.


Objectives: The aim of this systematic review was to analyse, synthesise and review existing results on posttraumatic growth (PTG) among PLWH. In particular, we investigated the relationship of PTG with sociodemographic, HIV-related clinical variables, positive and negative psychological correlates as well as HIV-related social issues among PLWH.

Method: A literature search was performed on Web of Science, PsyARTICLES, MedLine, Proquest and Scopus databases using appropriate descriptors for positive changes among PLWH. Articles were analysed by title, abstract, and full text.

Results: We accepted a set of 24 articles for systematic review and analysis. Consistent findings were obtained with respect to the positive association between psychological and social correlates (optimism, resilience, positive reappraisal coping, positive affect, self-efficacy and social support) and PTG among PLWH. PTG was also negatively related to various aspects of HIV-related distress (depression, substance use, PTSD symptoms, HIV stigma). On the contrary, sociodemographic and especially HIV-related clinical variables were mostly unrelated to PTG among PLWH.

Conclusions: The self-reported PTG among PLWH may be related to psychological variables rather than to objective characteristics of HIV infection itself. Nevertheless, several aspects of research on PTG among PLWH require modification, both theoretically and methodologically.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Posttraumatic growth; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posttraumatic Growth, Psychological*