Research Alert

Background: Emerging studies have shown the effectiveness of mobile health (mHealth) interventions in reducing depressive symptoms among people living with HIV. Most of these studies included only short-term follow-up, with limited data on long-term effects.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to assess the long-term effects of a randomized controlled trial called Run4Love on depressive symptoms among people living with HIV at 1-year and 3-year follow-ups.

Methods: A total of 300 people living with HIV with depressive symptoms were recruited and randomized to an intervention or a control group in Guangzhou, China, from September 2017 to January 2018. The intervention group received a 3-month Run4Love program, including adapted evidence-based cognitive behavioral stress management courses and exercise promotion via WeChat (Tencent), a popular social media app. The control group received usual care and a brochure on nutrition. The primary outcome was reduction in depressive symptoms, measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies–Depression (CES-D) scale. Data used in this study were collected at baseline and at the 1-year and 3-year follow-ups. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the group differences at 1-year and 3-year follow-ups.

Results: Approximately half of the participants completed the assessment at 1-year (149/300, 49.7%) and 3-year (177/300, 59%) follow-ups. At 1-year follow-up, participants in the intervention group reported significant reduction in depressive symptoms compared with the control group (CES-D: from 23.9 to 18.1 in the intervention group vs from 24.3 to 23.3 in the control group; mean −4.79, SD 13.56; 95% CI −7.78 to −1.81; P=.002). At 3-year follow-up, between-group difference in CES-D remained statistically significant (from 23.9 to 20.5 in the intervention group vs from 24.3 to 24.4 in the control group; mean −3.63, SD 13.35; 95% CI −6.71 to −0.54; P=.02). No adverse events were reported during the 3-year follow-up period.

Conclusions: The mHealth intervention, Run4Love, significantly reduced depressive symptoms among people living with HIV, and the intervention effects were sustained at 1-year and 3-year follow-ups. Further research is needed to explore the mechanisms of the long-term effects of mHealth interventions such as Run4Love and to implement these effective interventions among people living with HIV. 

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CITATIONS

Journal of Medical Internet Research