Mindfulness-based stress reduction for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder: Rationale and protocol for a randomized controlled trial in older adults

Elizabeth L Addington, Shireen Javandel, Victor De Gruttola, Robert Paul, Benedetta Milanini, Beau M Ances, Judith T Moskowitz, Victor Valcour
Contemporary Clinical Trials 2020 September 14, : 106150
The symptom burden of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is high among older individuals, and treatment options are limited. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has potential to improve neurocognitive performance, psychosocial wellbeing, and quality of life, but empirical studies in this growing vulnerable population are lacking. In this trial, participants (N = 180) age 55 and older who are living with HIV infection, are on combination antiretroviral therapy with suppressed viral loads, and yet continue to experience behavioral and cognitive symptoms of HAND, are randomized to MBSR or to a waitlist control arm that receives MBSR following a 16-week period of standard care. Primary outcomes (attention, executive function, stress, anxiety, depression, everyday functioning, quality of life) and potential mediators (affect, mindfulness) and moderators (social support, loneliness) are assessed at baseline and weeks 8, 16, and 48 in both groups, with an additional assessment at week 24 (post-MBSR) in the crossover control group. Assessments include self-report and objective measures (e.g., neuropsychological assessment, neurological exam, clinical labs). In addition, a subset of participants (n = 30 per group) are randomly selected to undergo fMRI to evaluate changes in functional connectivity networks and their relationship to changes in neuropsychological outcomes. Forthcoming findings from this randomized controlled trial have the potential to contribute to a growing public health need as the number of older adults with HAND is expected to rise.

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