Do positive psychosocial factors predict disease progression in HIV-1? A review of the evidence

Gail Ironson, H'Sien Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Adding to a traditional stress perspective, behavioral medicine has been focusing increasingly on investigating the potential impact of positive psychosocial factors on disease course in HIV. Dispositional optimism, active coping, and spirituality show the most evidence for predicting slower disease progression, although the data are not entirely consistent. Findings for the role of social support are mixed, although indications are that it may be particularly helpful at later stages of illness. Many of the other constructs (positive affect, finding meaning, emotional expression/processing, openness, extraversion, conscientiousness, altruism, and self-efficacy) have only been examined in one or two studies; results are preliminary but suggestive of protective effects. Plausible behavioral and biological mechanisms are discussed (including health behaviors, neurohormones, and immune measures) as well as suggestions for clinicians, limitations, future directions, and a discussion of whether these constructs can be changed. In conclusion, investigating the importance and usefulness of positive psychosocial factors in predicting disease progression in HIV is in its beginning scientific stages and shows good initial evidence and future promise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-554
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Coping
  • Disease progression
  • Meaning
  • Optimism
  • Positive psychology
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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