Psychosocial counseling to improve quality of life in HIV infection

Susan Lutgendorf, Michael H. Antoni, Neil Schneiderman, Mary Ann Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Psychosocial interventions such as cognitive behavioral stress management (CBSM), may enhance coping and social support which contribute to an improvement of quality of life factors such as emotional functioning, social functioning, and sense of well-being, for HIV-infected men during several phases of HIV spectrum disease. These phases include the acutely stressful period immediately following notification of HIV+ status, the adjustment period following this news, and the process of dealing with chronic symptomatic HIV infection. Normalization of some aspects of immunological status were found to accompany some of these psychosocial changes in the short-run. Longer-term follow-up indicated relationships between psychosocial factors and improved immunological status and physical functioning up to 2 years later. Factors such as an increased use of active coping strategies, including relaxation exercises, use of more functional appraisals and elicitation of social support, and decreased use of denial/avoidance coping strategies, may be key predictors of longer-term emotional well-being, social functioning, and physical functioning in HIV-infected populations. Special issues need to be addressed in emerging models of quality of life assessment in HIV populations. For example, the way resurgence of stigmatization and self-doubt affects sense of identity and well-being need to be addressed in quality of life research as well as in psychosocial interventions. Loss of employment and its financial and existential consequences are also factors which impact sense of self and well-being, and need to be addressed both in research as well as in interventions. The effect of repeated HIV-related bereavements upon an individual's social network and the emotional, social, and physical sequelae of bereavement have implications for HIV quality of life research as well. Quality of survival time has become a paramount issue in the context of HIV spectrum disease. Examining the relationships among coping strategies, social support, emotional well-being, realistic appraisals of one's functioning in comparison to their aspirations, and the influence of psychosocial functioning on disease course are central missions of our research program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-235
Number of pages19
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1994


  • Counseling
  • HIV infection
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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