In the Netherlands, a self-guided online intervention decreased depressive symptoms in people living with HIV (PLWH) significantly more than an attention-only wait list, a study published in The Lancet found.
Researchers randomized 188 PLWH with mild to moderate depressive symptoms to the intervention arm (97 people) or the control arm (91 people). At start, mean scores on a standard depression assessment tool, Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), were 11.74 in the intervention and 11.11 in the control group. PHQ-9 scores of >4 indicate mild depression, and the scale tops out at 20. Eight weeks after baseline, PHQ-9 scores were 6.73 in the intervention arm and 8.60 in the control group. Three months later, scores in the two arms were 6.62 and 8.06, respectively.
In a related commentary, Eirini Karyotaki, Ph.D., of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, offered that online interventions, especially if implemented in a massive, open manner, could provide mental health care for PLWH with depression in resource-limited settings, where such care might otherwise not be available.