Social isolation is associated with an increased risk for mental and physical health problems, especially among older persons living with HIV (PLWH). Thus, there is a need to better understand real-time temporal associations between social activity and mood- and health-related factors in this population to inform possible future interventions.
This study aims to examine real-time relationships between social activity and mood, fatigue, and pain in a sample of older PLWH.
A total of 20 older PLWH, recruited from the University of California, San Diego HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program in 2016, completed smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment (EMA) surveys 5 times per day for 1 week. Participants reported their current social activity (alone vs not alone and number of social interactions) and levels of mood (sadness, happiness, and stress), fatigue, and pain. Mixed-effects regression models were used to analyze concurrent and lagged associations among social activity, mood, fatigue, and pain.
Participants (mean age 58.8, SD 4.3 years) reported being alone 63% of the time, on average, (SD 31.5%) during waking hours. Being alone was related to lower concurrent happiness (beta=−.300; 95% CI −.525 to −.079; P=.008). In lagged analyses, social activity predicted higher levels of fatigue later in the day (beta=−1.089; 95% CI −1.780 to −0.396; P=.002), and higher pain levels predicted being alone in the morning with a reduced likelihood of being alone as the day progressed (odds ratio 0.945, 95% CI 0.901-0.992; P=.02).
The use of EMA elucidated a high rate of time spent alone among older PLWH. Promoting social activity despite the presence of pain or fatigue may improve happiness and psychological well-being in this population.