A Randomized Clinical Trial of Alternative Stress Management Interventions in Persons With HIV Infection

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Abstract

Research in psychoneuroimmunology suggests that immunosuppression associated with perceived stress may contribute to disease progression in persons with HIV infection. While stress management interventions may enhance immune function, few alternative approaches have yet been tested. This randomized clinical trial was conducted to test effects of three 10-week stress management approaches—cognitive-behavioral relaxation training (RLXN), focused tai chi training (TCHI), and spiritual growth groups (SPRT)—in comparison to a wait-listed control group (CTRL) among 252 individuals with HIV infection. Using repeated measures mixed modeling, the authors found that in comparison to the CTRL group, (a) both the RLXN and TCHI groups used less emotion-focused coping, and (b) all treatment groups had augmented lymphocyte proliferative function. Despite modest effects of the interventions on psychosocial functioning, robust findings of improved immune function have important clinical implications, particularly for persons with immune-mediated illnesses.

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