A mixed-method randomized feasibility trial evaluating progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training on depressive symptoms and quality of life in people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who have depressive symptoms

J Complement Integr Med. 2020 Jul 3;18(1):165-174. doi: 10.1515/jcim-2019-0167.


Background: Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and autogenic training (AT) are effective relaxation techniques to reduce depressive symptoms. However, no studies on their effectiveness have been conducted among people living with HIV and depressive symptoms. The primary aim of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of PMR and AT interventions among people living with HIV who have depressive symptoms. A secondary aim was to assess the potential effectiveness of these interventions on depressive symptoms and quality of life.

Methods: This study was a three-arm pilot randomized control trial with mixed methods. Participants were randomized to PMR, AT, or a control group (CG), with four assessments (baseline, and at one, three, and six months). The PMR and AT interventions consisted of six 1 h sessions of individual training over 12 weeks, plus home practice. Recruitment, attrition, and completion rates were calculated. Depressive symptoms and quality of life were assessed at all times. Participants' perceptions of the interventions were collected in semi-structured interviews.

Results: Following the screening, 54/63 people met the inclusion criteria, and 42/54 were randomly allocated to the PMR group (n=14), AT group (n=14), and CG (n=14). Six participants (43%; 95% CI 18-71%) in the PMR group and 10 (71%; 95% CI 42-92%) in the AT group completed the intervention. Participants reported better emotion management and improvements in depressive symptoms and quality of life.

Conclusions: The pilot study suggests that a randomized trial to test the effectiveness of these interventions is feasible.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01901016.

Keywords: HIV; autogenic training; depression; progressive muscle relaxation; quality of life.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01901016