Evaluation of Computerized Cognitive Training and Cognitive and Daily Function in Patients Living With HIV : A Meta-analysis

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  • Jiaqi Wei
  • Tingting Mu
  • Jun Sun
  • Shuang Li
  • Hao Wu
  • Bin Su
  • Tong Zhang


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere220970
Journal / PublicationJAMA Network Open
Issue number3
Online published3 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022



IMPORTANCE  In the era of antiretroviral therapy (ART), the incidence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) has not yet been controlled. With the exception of ART, there is no beneficial pharmacologic treatment. However, some studies have reported that computerized cognitive training (CCT) programs may improve cognitive function among people living with HIV.

OBJECTIVE  To examine the association between CCT programs and 8 domains measuring cognitive function (7 domains) and daily function (1 domain) among people living with HIV.

DATA SOURCES  Records from the Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched from database inception to December 15, 2020. Supplementary searches to identify missing studies were conducted in Google Scholar using updated search terms from database inception to November 18, 2021.

STUDY SELECTION  Studies that compared changes before and after a CCT intervention among people living with HIV were included. Search terms were a combination of words associated with HIV (eg, people living with HIV, HIV, and/or AIDS) and cognitive training (eg, cognitive intervention, nonpharmacology intervention, computer game, video game, computerized training, cognitive exercise, cognitive stimulation, and/or cognitive enhancement). Studies were included if they (1) used CCT as the primary intervention or combined CCT with other types of interventions; (2) used placebo, passive control conditions, traditional cognitive training, or single training tasks as control conditions; (3) reported changes between baseline and posttraining; (4) included participants 18 years or older; and (5) were randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Studies were excluded if they (1) were not associated with HIV, (2) were research protocols or feedback reports, (3) were case reports, or (4) did not report findings for domains of interest.

DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS  Two reviewers independently extracted data. This study followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guideline. Random-effects models were used to quantitatively synthesize the existing data.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES  Primary outcomes were the meta-synthesized changes in each domain after CCT.

RESULTS  Among 1245 records identified, 1043 were screened after removal of duplicates. Of those, 1019 records were excluded based on titles and abstracts, and 24 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. After exclusions, 12 eligible RCTs were selected for inclusion in the meta-analysis. These RCTs involved 596 total participants, with 320 individuals in the CCT group (mean age, 47.5-59.7 years; 0%-94% female; 8.3-14.2 years of education) and 276 individuals in the control group (mean age, 44.2-60.0 years; 19%-90% female; 9.0-14.9 years of education). The average HIV inhibition ratio (the proportion of participants who achieved virological suppression) ranged from 30% to 100%, and the CD4+ T-cell count ranged from 471 to 833 cells/μL. The time since training ranged from 3 to 24 weeks. After receipt of CCT, function significantly improved in 6 of the 8 domains: abstraction and executive function (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.58; 95% CI, 0.26-0.91; P < .001), attention and working memory (SMD, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.33-0.91; P < .001), memory (SMD, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.20-0.97; P = .003), motor skills (SMD, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.24-0.77; P < .001), speed of information processing (SMD, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.37-0.94; P < .001), and daily function (SMD, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.02-0.86; P = .04). Sensory and perceptual skills (SMD, 0.06; 95% CI, −0.36 to 0.48; P = .78) and verbal and language skills (SMD, 0.46; 95% CI, −0.07 to 0.99; P = .09) did not significantly improve after CCT.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE   This meta-analysis of RCTs found that CCT programs were associated with improvements in cognitive and daily function among people living with HIV. Future studies are needed to design optimal specific training programs and use implementation science to enable the transformation of CCT from a scientific research tool to a real-world clinical intervention.

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