Conscientiousness predicts disease progression (CD4 number and viral load) in people living with HIV

Conall O'Cleirigh, Gail Ironson, Alexander Weiss, Paul T. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objective: Psychosocial factors (e.g., depression, avoidant coping, life stress) have been related to disease progression in HIV. This study examined the relationship between the Big Five Conscientiousness factor and HIV disease progression (CD4 cell and viral load) over I year in 119 seropositive participants. The study also examined whether Conscientiousness effects were mediated by adherence, perceived stress, depression, or coping measures.

Design: In a 1 -year longitudinal design, participants completed the NEO Five-Factor Inventory Conscientiousness scale (P. T. Costa & R. R. McCrae, 1992). Participants also completed psychosocial assessments and underwent blood draws at initial assessments and 1-year follow-up.

Main Outcome Measures: Multiple hierarchical regression models were used to predict change in CD4 cell numbers and viral load log 10, controlling for demographic variables, initial disease status, and antiretroviral medications.

Results: Conscientiousness predicted significant increases in CD4 number and significant decreases in viral load at I year. Conscientiousness was related positively to medication adherence and active coping and negatively to depression and perceived stress. Only perceived stress emerged as a possible mediator.

Conclusion: The significant relationship between Conscientiousness and medication adherence, distress, and coping suggests that an assessment of Conscientiousness in patients with HIV may help specify or target behavioral interventions to promote optimal disease management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • conscientiousness
  • personality
  • HIV disease progression
  • mediation
  • MEN


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