Symptom clusters in people living with HIV: A systematic review


CONTEXT: An increasing number of studies regarding symptom management have begun to shift their focus from managing a single symptom to multiple symptom clusters. However, there is a lack of consistency of compositions among different studies and even in two different analyses reported in a single study within the same population. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this systematic review was to summarize the compositions, measures, and data analysis techniques of symptom clusters in people living with HIV (PLWH). METHODS: We conducted a comprehensive search to identify published studies about symptom clusters among PLWH. Databases including PubMed/MEDLINE, MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), CINAHL (EBSCO), Web of Science, and ProQuest Dissertations and Thesis were searched for studies published between January 2000 and December 2018. RESULTS: Thirteen articles were eligible for inclusion. Five most commonly reported symptom clusters were found: 1) sad/depressed/loss of interest and nervous/anxious/worrying; 2) difficulty sleeping, problems with having sex, and fatigue/loss of energy; 3) fever/chills/sweat, nausea/vomiting, and loss of appetite; 4) numbness, muscle aches, and joint pain; and 5) dizziness and headache. CONCLUSION: This systematic review summarized the compositions, measures, and analytical techniques of symptom clusters for PLWH. Although this review found unstable results on the compositions of symptom clusters and it was difficult to reach a definitive conclusion, the results still implicate the necessity of developing a threshold to decide what symptoms should be included in the clusters and the use of multiple data analysis techniques to obtain stable results


Zhu Z, Zhao R, Hu Y




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Mental Health
    • Depression


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