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Treatment outcomes of a stage 1 cognitive–behavioral trial to reduce alcohol use among human immunodeficiency virus-infected out-patients in western Kenya


Rebecca K. Papas, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Providence, RI 02906, USA. E-mail:


Aims  Dual epidemics of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and alcohol use disorders, and a dearth of professional resources for behavioral treatment in sub-Saharan Africa, suggest the need for development of culturally relevant and feasible interventions. The purpose of this study was to test the preliminary efficacy of a culturally adapted six-session gender-stratified group cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention delivered by paraprofessionals to reduce alcohol use among HIV-infected out-patients in Eldoret, Kenya.

Design  Randomized clinical trial comparing CBT against a usual care assessment-only control.

Setting  A large HIV out-patient clinic in Eldoret, Kenya, part of the Academic Model for Providing Access to Healthcare collaboration.

Participants  Seventy-five HIV-infected out-patients who were antiretroviral (ARV)-initiated or ARV-eligible and who reported hazardous or binge drinking.

Measurements  Percentage of drinking days (PDD) and mean drinks per drinking days (DDD) measured continuously using the Time line Follow back method.

Findings  There were 299 ineligible and 102 eligible out-patients with 12 refusals. Effect sizes of the change in alcohol use since baseline between the two conditions at the 30-day follow-up were large [d = 0.95, P = 0.0002, mean difference = 24.93, 95% confidence interval (CI): 12.43, 37.43 PDD; d = 0.76, P = 0.002, mean difference = 2.88, 95% CI: 1.05, 4.70 DDD]. Randomized participants attended 93% of the six CBT sessions offered. Reported alcohol abstinence at the 90-day follow-up was 69% (CBT) and 38% (usual care). Paraprofessional counselors achieved independent ratings of adherence and competence equivalent to college-educated therapists in the United States. Treatment effect sizes were comparable to alcohol intervention studies conducted in the United States.

Conclusions  Cognitive–behavioral therapy can be adapted successfully to group paraprofessional delivery in Kenya and may be effective in reducing alcohol use among HIV-infected Kenyan out-patients.