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Coping strategies and response styles in homosexual symptomatic seropositive men.


Int Conf AIDS. 1990 Jun 20-23;6(3):181 (abstract no. S.B.382). Unique

OBJECTIVE: To document the prevalence and patterns of coping with HIV-related stressors in homosexual symptomatic seropositive men. METHODS: 100 seropositive homosexual men with initially at least one HIV-related symptom were administered a semi-structured interview designed to elicit perceived HIV-related stressors at 3 time points, 9 months apart, and how they coped with these stressors. Stressors and coping strategies were subsequently coded into categories with excellent interrater reliability. RESULTS: Stressor categories included: HIV and diagnostic testing; severe symptom or illness episodes; treatment issues; complications with family, work, or school; physical and psychological limitations or losses; and concerns about the future. Several major response styles emerged: (a) 53% of subjects were characterized by a pro-active response style consisting of accepting responsibility, seeking social support, planning, assertiveness, prioritizing, and maintaining a positive attitude; (b) 22% evidenced a control/denial response style which utilized strategies of escape/avoidance, distancing self, rationalization, and distraction; (c) 8% responded mainly by taking care of self, through such means as exercise, vacations, or meditation. Almost one-quarter of the control/denial group reported impulsive or self-destructive behaviors, including drug/alcohol abuse or risky sexual behaviors; these behaviors did not occur in the other groups. CONCLUSION: An understanding of how individuals cope with HIV-related stressors is critical to developing appropriate psychosocial interventions, and identifying individuals whose coping strategies may create new problems.

*Adaptation, Psychological Alcoholism Assertiveness Attitude to Health Community Mental Health Services Health Planning Homosexuality Human HIV Seropositivity/DIAGNOSIS/*PSYCHOLOGY Interviews Male Prevalence Risk Factors Sex Behavior Social Support *Stress United States ABSTRACT


Information in this article was accurate in December 30, 1990. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.