Background: Most HIV-infected patients attending a consultation-liaison psychiatry service show symptoms of anxiety and depression. The present study sought to evaluate the immediate and long-term efficacy of a structured cognitive-behavioural group therapy reducing anxiety and depression in HIV-infected patients referred to a consultation-liaison psychiatry department, and to identify baseline variables predictive of greater improvement. Methods: Repeated-measures ANOVA was used to analyse changes in the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the state subscale of the State/Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) administered to 39 participants at 4 time points: T1 (1 month before beginning the therapy), T2 (during the first session), T3 (during the last session) and T4 (3 months after the last session). The therapy consisted of 16 weekly 2-hour sessions following a structured time-limited cognitive-behavioural group psychotherapy programme. Results: During the intervention time (between T2 and T3) an improvement was observed in depression and anxiety, which persisted after the 3-month follow-up period (between T3 and T4). No changes were observed during baseline (between T1 and T2). Patients with higher levels of anxiety at baseline showed greater improvement in STAI state subscale scores. Transmission of HIV infection through intravenous drug use was associated with less improvement on the BDI. Conclusions: This is the first report of an ongoing study which suggests long-lasting efficacy of a structured cognitive-behavioural group psychotherapy programme in a heterogeneous sample of HIV-1-infected patients referred to a consultation-liaison psychiatry unit.
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