Review Article

Effectiveness of palliative care including physiotherapy in hiv patients a review of the literature

J. Uwimana, Q Louw
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 63, No 2 | a135 | DOI: | © 2007 J. Uwimana, Q Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 January 2007 | Published: 08 January 2007

About the author(s)

J. Uwimana, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Q Louw, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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It is estimated that 41 million people throughout the world are
living with HIV/AIDS and of these 39 million are in sub-Saharan Africa
(UNAIDS 2004).  The HIV/AIDS epidemic is devastating the African continent.In Africa poorly resourced health care infrastructure further impairs the quality of life in HIV sufferers. Palliative care is an approach that aims to improve the quality of life of people living with threatening diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. This review aimed to determine the efficacy of palliative care. Complementary therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, peer/counselling group therapy, massage  therapy, and exercise therapy constitute palliative care. Seventeen articles published in peer reviewed journals during the period 1990-2005 were reviewed. The findings of our review demonstrate that there are indications that palliative care can be effective in improving the quality of life in patients with life threatening diseases such HIV/AIDS. Research in this field is complicated by the heterogeneity of study samples, difficulty in patient recruitment, and death before the end of the intervention period. Future research in this area should aim to include larger study samples, using valid tools to assess quality of life and to employ qualitative methods in studies to assess the effectiveness of palliative care.


palliative care; complementary therapy; physiotherapy; hiv/aids; terminally ill; quality of life


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