This study, led by CHIPTS Core Affiliate, Eric Houston, PhD, and included Center Director, Steve Shoptaw, PhD, was published in SciForschen Journal of HIV and AIDS online on March 27th, 2018 titled, “HIV and Depression: A Potential Role for Attention Training in Prevention and Treatment.”
Abstract: Much research indicates a strong relationship between depressive symptoms and poor health behaviors, including those key to HIV infection and unfavorable treatment outcomes. Given the role of attention bias for negative stimuli in the development and maintenance of depressive symptoms, attention bias modification (ABM) training has gained growing support as a promising clinical approach. ABM is a computerized treatment designed to induce changes in mood and behavior by retraining an individual’s attentional focus. Using explicit instructions and trial-by-trial feedback, this preliminary study explored the potential utility of a single session of ABM training in addressing depressive symptoms among individuals at heightened vulnerability for poor HIV-related health behaviors. The sample, recruited from a clinic that provides services to residents of a Los Angeles community impacted by high HIV infection rates, consisted of 14 African American men who have sex with men (MSM). Participants exhibited a significant reduction in attention bias for negative emotional stimuli following a single session of attention training. Engagement with negative stimuli was lower after training than before training regardless of trial type. This study suggests that brief attention training sessions using novel procedures designed to enhance the learning experience of participants could be employed to address depressive symptoms among individuals at risk for poor HIV-related health behaviors. Future studies should employ these procedures as part of multisession attention trainings with repeated measures of attention bias and depressive symptoms.