Open Access Study protocol

The positive outlook study- a randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of an online self-management program targeting psychosocial issues for men living with HIV: a study protocol

Tanya Millard1*, Julian Elliott123, Sean Slavin4, Karalyn McDonald15, Sally Rowell6 and Sonya Girdler7

Author Affiliations

1 Central Clinical School, Department of Infectious Diseases, Monash University, Level 5, Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne 3004, Australia

2 Infectious Diseases Unit, Alfred Hospital, Level 2 Burnet Tower, 85 Commercial Road, Melbourne 3004, Australia

3 Burnet Institute, 85 Commercial Rd, Melbourne 3004, Australia

4 Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia

5 Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

6 Western Australian AIDS Council, PO Box 1510, West Perth 6872, Australia

7 School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Centre for Research into Disability and Society, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth 6845, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:106  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-106

Published: 4 February 2014



The emergence of HIV as a chronic condition means that people living with HIV are required to take more responsibility for the self-management of their condition, including making physical, emotional and social adjustments. This paper describes the design and evaluation of Positive Outlook, an online program aiming to enhance the self-management skills of gay men living with HIV.


This study is designed as a randomised controlled trial in which men living with HIV in Australia will be assigned to either an intervention group or usual care control group. The intervention group will participate in the online group program ‘Positive Outlook’. The program is based on self-efficacy theory and uses a self-management approach to enhance skills, confidence and abilities to manage the psychosocial issues associated with HIV in daily life. Participants will access the program for a minimum of 90 minutes per week over seven weeks. Primary outcomes are domain specific self-efficacy, HIV related quality of life, and outcomes of health education. Secondary outcomes include: depression, anxiety and stress; general health and quality of life; adjustment to HIV; and social support. Data collection will take place at baseline, completion of the intervention (or eight weeks post randomisation) and at 12 week follow-up.


Results of the Positive Outlook study will provide information regarding the effectiveness of online group programs improving health related outcomes for men living with HIV.

Trial registration


HIV; Self-Management; Online Intervention; Quality of Life