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January 2022

A pilot intervention program that reduces psychological symptomatology in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus


Abstract: Background: Thirty-eight human immunodeficiency virus-seropositive men and women, most with AIDS, enrolled in a psychological intervention, called the HeartMath program. It is a unique intervention for stress-reduction and mental and emotional self-management that focuses on enhancing positive emotional states, as well as minimizing negative states. Objective: This pilot study was conducted to determine the feasibility of this program in managing the psychological status and improving the quality of life of individuals with human immunodeficiency virus. The study was not intended to be a large, double-blind, controlled clinical study. Methods: Participants attended three 2-day training sessions and were given home study assignments of approximately one hour per day for the six-month study period. They were assessed on site prior to and at the completion of the six-month period using (i) an Irritability Scale, (ii) a Symptom Questionnaire developed to assess the number and severity of symptoms specifically associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, (iii) the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, (iv) the General Well-Being Scale, and (v) the Essi Systems StressMapl Research Tool. Results: The data indicate that the program is highly effective in reducing symptomatology in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus by decreasing state and trait anxiety, improving physical vitality, reducing stress, and improving overall psychological well-being. Some individuals also reported improvements in physical symptomatology. Conclusions: The results indicate that the HeartMath program is a nonpharmaceutical intervention that can positively affect the psychological well-being of individuals with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

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