A randomized clinical trial showing persisting reductions in depressive symptoms in HIV-infected rural adults following brief telephone-administered interpersonal psychotherapy

Timothy G. Heckman, John C. Markowitz, Bernadette D. Heckman, Henok Woldu, Timothy Anderson, Travis Lovejoy, Ye Shen, Mark Sutton, William Yarber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Background Rural areas account for 5% to 7% of all HIV infections in the USA, and rural people living with HIV (PLHIV) are 1.3 times more likely to receive a depression diagnosis than their urban counterparts. A previous analysis from our randomized clinical trial found that nine weekly sessions of telephone-administered interpersonal psychotherapy (tele-IPT) reduced depressive symptoms and interpersonal problems in rural PLHIV from preintervention through postintervention significantly more than standard care but did not increase perceived social support compared to standard care. Purpose To assess tele-IPT's enduring effects at 4- and 8-month follow-up in this cohort. Methods Tele-IPT's long-term depression treatment efficacy was assessed through Beck Depression Inventory self-administrations at 4 and 8 months. Using intentionto- treat and completer-only approaches, mixed models repeated measures, and Cohen's d assessed maintenance of acute treatment gains. Results Intention-to-treat analyses found fewer depressive symptoms in tele-IPT patients than standard care controls at 4 (d = .41; p < .06) and 8-month follow-up (d =.47; p < .05). Completer-only analyses found similar patterns, with larger effect sizes. Tele-IPT patients used crisis hotlines less frequently than standard care controls at postintervention and 4-month follow-up (ps < .05). Conclusions Tele-IPT provides longer term depression relief in depressed rural PLHIV. This is also the first controlled trial to find that IPT administered over the telephone provides long-term depressive symptom relief to any clinical population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Depression
  • HIV
  • Rural
  • Tele-IPT
  • Tele-therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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