Cognitive functioning, depression, and HIV medication adherence in India: A randomized pilot trial

Ryan Cook, Drenna Waldrop-Valverde, Aman Sharma, Szonja Vamos, Biraaj Mahajan, Stephen M. Weiss, Mahendra Kumar, Ritu Nehra, Deborah L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: India is home to the third-largest number of people living with HIV in the world, and no-cost antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been available across the country since 2004. However, rates of adherence to ART are often subpar in India, and interventions to increase adherence are warranted. Cognitive impairment and depression have been associated with ART non-adherence, and may also limit the impact of behavioral interventions designed to improve adherence. Studies have not evaluated the impact of cognitive impairment and depression on response to adherence interventions in India. Methods: Individuals new to ART (≤12 months prescribed) were recruited from a public hospital in Chandigarh, India. Participants (N = 80) were randomized to either a group medication adherence intervention (MAI) or an enhanced standard of care (ESOC) condition. The MAI consisted of three monthly gender-concordant group cognitive-behavioral sessions addressing HIV and ART, adherence, and HIV-related coping and social support. Participants were assessed at baseline for depression and cognitive functioning, and assessed monthly for adherence by pill count. Results: Adherence among participants receiving the MAI improved by about one day’s dose over the course of the study, and no improvement was noted among those in the ESOC. Additionally, high rates of cognitive impairment (57%) and depression (25%) were identified among participants. There was no evidence that cognitive impairment moderated response to the intervention. However, while non-depressed participants benefitted from the intervention, depressed participants failed to show the same improvement. Conclusions: Results of this pilot study suggest that group behavioral interventions can be an effective strategy to promote ART adherence in this population, even among those demonstrating cognitive impairment. However, because of the negative impact of depression on adherence, future studies should continue to develop strategies to identify and treat it among people living with HIV in India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-652
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adherence
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Depression
  • HIV
  • India

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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