A randomized controlled clinical trial of a bereavement support group intervention in human immunodeficiency virus type 1-seropositive and -seronegative homosexual men

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999 Jan;56(1):52-9. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.56.1.52.


Background: Bereavement is a severe and frequent stressor among those infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and those affected by the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic. This study examined the impact of a research-derived, semistructured, bereavement support group among HIV-1-seropositive and HIV-1-seronegative homosexual men having lost a close friend or intimate partner to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome within the prior 6 months.

Methods: A total of 166 subjects (97 HIV-1 seropositive; 69 HIV- 1 seronegative) were randomly assigned to groups of homogeneous HIV-1 serostatus or to their respective control group. Subjects were assessed at entry and at 10 weeks with psychosocial questionnaires, a semistructured interview for psychopathology, a medical history and physical examination, urine collection, and phlebotomy.

Results: For a composite score of psychological distress and grief as well as the distress component, scores were significantly lower after the intervention by analyses against baseline scores, with and without control variables for other factors affecting distress level. A significant reduction in grief level was found only in the analysis that included control variables. Control subjects showed no significant decrements in overall distress, although a significant decrement in grief level was observed.

Conclusion: A brief group intervention can significantly reduce overall distress and accelerate grief reduction in a sample of bereaved subjects unselected for psychopathology or at high risk for subsequent maladjustment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / mortality*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / prevention & control
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy
  • Aged
  • Bereavement*
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Grief
  • HIV Seronegativity*
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy, Brief
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Social Support
  • Treatment Outcome