Last updated on June 2019

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Aging People Living With HIV in Chronic Pain


Brief description of study

Chronic pain impacts a large proportion of aging people living with HIV (aPLWH) and involves factors directly related to HIV (neurotoxicity) and psychosocial co-morbidities common in aPLWH (i.e. social isolation and loneliness). The investigators hypothesize that novel interventions that acknowledge these psychosocial co-morbidities may improve the efficacy of chronic pain management and minimize the use of potentially dangerous medications. This grant proposes to adapt and pilot a pain psychotherapy approach using group acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in aPLWH with chronic pain.

Detailed Study Description

Chronic pain affects a very high proportion of aging people living with HIV (aPLWH) and is thought to be related to both direct toxicity of HIV and antiretroviral therapy (ART) and by psychosocial factors that negatively affect pain (i.e. loneliness, HIV stigma). PLWH are also at increased risk for prescription opiate misuse. However as PLWH age, non-opiate medications used for pain can contribute to other negative outcomes such as falls, altered mental status and gastrointestinal bleeding. Thus there is a critical need for the development of novel interventions in the management of chronic pain in aPLWH that consider the psychological co-morbidities of aging with HIV and that can minimize the need for prescription medications. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has previously been evaluated in older persons with chronic pain and has demonstrated higher levels of satisfaction and efficacy when compared to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). ACT has never been evaluated in aPLWH for chronic pain, but has theoretical advantages over CBT for this population. Specifically several negatively modifying factors of CBT efficacy such as cognitive deficits are common in aPLWH.

The overarching objective of this study is to determine the acceptability and feasibility of an ACT intervention for the management of chronic pain adapted to aPLWH. To accomplish this objective the investigators will 1) train lay personnel to perform ACT to determine feasibility of this approach for future implementation, 2) conduct uncontrolled group ACT in aPLWH to generate participant feedback and questionnaire data to inform ACT adaption with the assistance of a steering commitee, and 3) conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluating the acceptability of adapted ACT compared to pain education. At completion of this grant the investigators expect to have successfully trained lay personnel to perform group ACT, adapted ACT from quantitative and qualitative data collected from an uncontrolled study of group ACT, and determined whether ACT is acceptable and feasible as an intervention in aPLWH. These expected outcomes may benefit other aging populations with chronic pain that are enriched for psychosocial co-morbidities such as persons who inject drugs, the socioeconomically disadvantaged, and racial or gender minorities. This proposal is aligned with the Office of AIDS Research High Priorities to better understand "HIV-associated comorbidities" which includes pain and to "Reduce Health Disparities in treatment outcomes of those living with HIV/AIDS" and with the National Pain Strategy to "expand investment ... in the development of safe and effective pain treatments."

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03699020

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AntiViral Research Center

San Diego, CA United States
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Recruitment Status: Open


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