Community health worker (CHW) interventions are a successful strategy to promote health among HIV-negative and persons living with HIV (PLWH). Psychosocial factors are critical dimensions of HIV/AIDS care contributing to prognosis of the disease, yet it is unclear how CHW interventions improve psychosocial outcomes in PLWH. The purpose of this study was to critically appraise the types, scope, and nature of CHW interventions designed to address psychosocial outcomes in PLWH.
Half of the studies were conducted in the United States. Social cognitive theory was used more than once in nine theory-guided studies. CHW interventions were largely focused on reducing depression (n = 6) or stigma related to HIV (n = 4), or promoting quality of life (n = 4), social support (n = 4), and self-efficacy (n = 4). Didactic methods and role-playing were used to train CHWs. CHWs played multiple roles in delivering intervention, including a counselor and a supporter (n = 10), educator (n = 5), or a navigator (n = 3). CHW intervention fidelity was assessed in 4 studies. Five studies found positive changes in six psychosocial outcomes including quality of life (2 of 4) and self-efficacy (2 of 4). CHW interventions had no effect on social support in 2 of 4 studies, and stigma in 3 of 4 studies. None of the CHW interventions were successful in reducing depressive symptoms among PLWH.
Evidence partially supported the use of CHWs in promoting psychosocial outcomes in PLWH. Future CHW intervention should be expanded in scope to address key psychosocial determinants of HIV/AIDS outcomes such as health literacy. Further, fidelity measures should be incorporated into intervention delivery.
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Han, H., Kim, K., Murphy, J., Cudjoe, J., Wilson, P., Sharps, P., & Farley, J. (2018). Community health worker interventions to promote psychosocial outcomes among people living with HIV—A systematic review. PLoS ONE, 13 (4). http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194928