DOI: 10.1177/13596535231216311 ISSN: 1359-6535

Waitlist-controlled trial of an online intervention to address mental health among older people living with HIV

Jeff Berko, Peter Mazonson, Duncan Short, Maile Karris, Lynsay Ehui, Cassidy A Gutner, Frank Spinelli, Andrew Zolopa
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology

Background: Older people living with HIV (PLWH) often experience elevated levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

Methods: This waitlist-controlled trial examined the effectiveness of online audio mindfulness lessons in impacting these feelings among older PLWH.

Results: Among 214 participants, the mean (SD) age was 60.4 (5.9) years, 89% were male, and 69% were white. After 25 days, the intervention group showed significant improvements versus the waitlist control group in symptoms of depression (20.3% improvement,  p < .01) and symptoms of anxiety (22.4% improvement,  p = .03), but not in loneliness as measured by a Daily Diary (12.9% improvement,  p = .07) or the 3-Item Loneliness Scale (4.8% improvement,  p = .27). Secondary analyses among participants with elevated baseline symptoms of depression showed a 26.3% improvement ( p < .01), with a moderate effect size (Hedge’s g = 0.69). Similarly, those with elevated baseline symptoms of anxiety showed a 25.6% improvement ( p < .01), a moderate effect size (g = 0.54), while those with moderate or severely elevated loneliness showed an 18.9% improvement in daily loneliness ( p < .01), a moderate effect size (g = 0.55).

Conclusion: This waitlist-controlled trial is the first to show that a series of brief, online audio mindfulness lessons improves mental health outcomes among older PLWH. For many patients, this intervention may offer relief that is both accessible and affordable.

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