Objective:To evaluate the acceptability, practicality, and short-term efficacy of a health education program to improve disease self-management in patients with symptomatic HIV/AIDS.
Design:Randomized controlled trial, baseline and 3-month follow-up questionnaire assessments.
Setting:San Francisco Bay communities.
Participants:Seventy-one men with symptomatic HIV or AIDS were randomly assigned to a seven-session group educational intervention (N = 34) or a usual-care control group (N = 37).
Intervention:Interactive health education groups were used to teach wide-ranging disease self-management skills and information: symptom assessment and management, medication use, physical exercise, relaxation, doctor-patient communication, and nutrition. Each group was led by two trained peer-leaders (one of whom was HIV-positive) recruited from the community.
Main Outcome Measures:The primary outcome of interest was symptom status. Secondary outcomes were self-efficacy and health behaviors. Analysis of covariance was used to compare experimental and control group mean outcomes, adjusting for baseline value differences.
Results:The symptom severity index (number of symptoms moderate or greater severity) decreased in the experimental, and increased in the control group (-0.9 versus +0.5; p < .03). Pain, fatigue, and psychological symptoms were not significantly different between groups. Self-efficacy for controlling symptoms improved in the experimental, and decreased in the control group (+4 versus -7; p < .02). Changes in stress/relaxation exercises and HIV/AIDS knowledge were not different between groups. A trend was shown toward more frequent physical exercise in the experimental group compared with less in the control group (+1.3 versus -0.5 times/week; p = .06).
Conclusions:Health education emphasizing self-management skills for HIV/AIDS patients can be implemented and evaluated and was accepted by patients, peer-leaders, and health care providers. Whether this educational program can lead to prolonged improvement in HIV symptoms and behaviors can be adequately addressed only by a larger trial of longer duration.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Allen L. Gifford, University of California San Diego, VA San Diego Healthcare System, 3350 La Jolla Village Drive (111N-1), San Diego, CA 92161, U.S.A.
Presented in part at the XI International Conference on AIDS, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 8, 1996.
Manuscript received August 11, 1997; accepted December 17, 1997.
© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.