Teaching HIV positive, gay men to relax, alter their cognitive appraisals, use new coping strategies and access social support is found to reduce depression, anxiety, anger, confusion and lower urinary cortisol levels.. Researchers from the Department of Psychology at The University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, assessed a CBSM intervention (Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management) with HIV-infected men, designed to teach them to relax, alter cognitive appraisals, use new coping strategies, and access social support resources. The study tested the effects of the intervention on 24-hour urinary free cortisol levels and distressed mood in participants. Fifty-nine symptomatic, HIV-infected, gay men participants were randomized to either a 10-week group-based CBSM intervention or a 10-week wait-list period. Post measures were taken of psychological responses and urine samples.

Those assigned to CBSM (n = 40) showed significantly lower posttreatment levels of self-reported depression, anxiety, anger, and confusion than those in the wait-list control group (n = 19). Of the 47 men providing urine samples (34 CBSM, 13 controls), those assigned to CBSM revealed significantly less cortisol output as compared to controls. Decreases in depressed mood paralleled reductions in cortisol across the entire sample during this period.

The study concludes that a time-limited CBSM intervention reduced distress, depression and urinary free cortisol output in symptomatic HIV+ gay men.

Citation: Antoni MH, Cruess S, Cruess DG, Kumar M, Lutgendorf S, Ironson G, Dettmer E, Williams J, Klimas N, Fletcher MA, Schneiderman N. Cognitive-behavioral stress management reduces distress and 24-hour urinary free cortisol output among symptomatic HIV-infected gay men. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2000 Winter; 22 (1): pp. 29-37. [email protected]