Presentation Title

Project MIGHT: Mental Health Intervention for Georgians with HIV/AIDS using Telehealth

Abstract

Project MIGHT leverages Georgia’s existing state-wide telehealth system in the delivery of mental health services for persons living with HIV/AIDS in rural/underserved Georgia counties. Experts from University of Georgia and Georgia Department of Public Health have partnered to evaluate the acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary efficacy of video-delivered psychotherapies to address the mental and behavioral health needs of Georgians living with HIV/AIDS.

Proposal Summary

Georgia is home to over 51,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and only 39% of these individuals are virally suppressed. Additionally, Southern states, including Georgia, have higher rates of rural HIV diagnoses compared to the rest of the country. Considering that many of the rural counties within Georgia are also federally-designated as mental health shortage areas, rural counties in Georgia have a need for providing mental health care to PLWHA. In response to the significant consequences associated with mental illness among PLWHA, as well as the lack of mental health infrastructure in rural communities, Project MIGHT (Mental Health Intervention for Georgians with HIV/AIDS using Telehealth) utilizes evidence-based, videoconferencing delivered psychotherapies to provide mental health care to rural PLWHA. Participants of Project MIGHT, who are currently recruited from three rural counties in Georgia, are referred by their case managers or social workers. Once enrolled, they attend therapy sessions by traveling to their local health department or AIDS service organization, where they can access the videoconferencing technology. Interventionists for the project are two doctoral-level students at the University of Georgia in the Counseling Psychology Program, who conduct the videoconferencing-based therapy under the direct supervision of Dr. Bernadette Heckman, a licensed clinical health psychologist. Participants enrolled in the project thus far are African-Americans, between the ages of 28-50, identify as heterosexual or bisexual, and struggle with a variety of mental health and substance use disorders. Preliminary baseline data suggests that over half of participants qualify as having at least a mild mood disturbance, with 28% reporting moderate to severe depression. They also have lower levels of social support (M=2.88 out of a possible 5, as measured by the Medical Outcomes Survey Social Support Scale) and an average of only 75% adherence to their medication over the previous month. Finally, participants have also reported moderate to significant difficulty attending appointments due to limited transportation. Thus, these initial results suggest that this is a high-need population who can benefit from mental health intervention. Additional data on current and future participants will be provided at the time of presentation. This project has three main forms of evaluation: pre-and post-program assessment batteries that examine psychological status, medication adherence, substance use behaviors, technology attitudes, and sexual risk behaviors; short post-session questionnaires delivered to both counselors and patients assessing overall rating of the experience; and a semi-structured interview conducted with participants after their initial eight sessions exploring their perceptions of the project. After 20 participants have been enrolled, we will examine the preliminary efficacy and acceptability of Project MIGHT, and then pursue additional funding to implement it on a wider-scale.

Relevance And Significance

This proposal is suited for the Prevention and Intervention conference track, as it describes a project utilizing telehealth-telecommunications technologies in order to provide an HIV and mental health intervention for rural populations.

Session Format

Poster Session

Keywords

Telehealth-Telecommunications technologies, HIV and mental health intervention

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Sep 21st, 5:30 PM Sep 21st, 7:30 PM

Project MIGHT: Mental Health Intervention for Georgians with HIV/AIDS using Telehealth

Project MIGHT leverages Georgia’s existing state-wide telehealth system in the delivery of mental health services for persons living with HIV/AIDS in rural/underserved Georgia counties. Experts from University of Georgia and Georgia Department of Public Health have partnered to evaluate the acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary efficacy of video-delivered psychotherapies to address the mental and behavioral health needs of Georgians living with HIV/AIDS.