Mindfulness-based stress reduction for HIV treatment side effects: A randomized, wait-list controlled trial

Larissa G. Duncan, Judith Tedlie Moskowitz, Torsten B. Neilands, Samantha E. Dilworth, Frederick M. Hecht, Mallory O. Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Context: Advances in antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV offer life-extending benefit; however, the side effects associated with ART use negatively impact quality of life and medication adherence among people living with HIV. Objectives: This study tested the efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for reducing ART symptoms and bother/distress related to ART side effects. Secondary aims were to test the impact of MBSR on medication adherence and psychological functioning. Methods: Seventy-six people living with HIV who were actively taking ART and reported distress from ART-related side effects were randomly assigned to an MBSR program or a wait-list control (WLC) standard care condition. We measured side effects, ART adherence, perceived stress, depression, positive and negative affect, and mindfulness at three time points: baseline, three-month follow-up, and six-month follow-up. Side effects and related distress were assessed separately from other symptoms. Results: Compared with a WLC, participants in the MBSR condition experienced a reduction in the frequency of symptoms attributable to ARTs at three months post-intervention (mean difference = 0.33; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.01, 0.66; t(132) = 2.04, P = 0.044) and six months post-intervention (mean difference = 0.38; 95% CI = 0.05, 0.71; t(132) = 2.27, P = 0.025). MBSR participants also experienced a reduction in distress associated with those symptoms at three months post-intervention (mean difference = 0.47; 95% CI = 0.003, 0.94; t(132) = 1.99, P = 0.048) compared with the WLC condition. Conclusion: MBSR is a promising approach for reducing HIV treatment-related side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • HIV
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
  • adherence
  • antiretroviral therapy
  • side effects
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Nursing


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