Emotional support and gender in people living with HIV: effects on psychological well-being


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Abstract

Current research indicates that emotional support is strongly associated with physical and psychological adjustment in persons living with HIV/AIDS. While gender-differences in health and health behaviors of HIV positive patients are well studied, less is known about how men and women living with HIV/AIDS may differentially perceive and integrate support into their lives, and how it subsequently affects their psychological well-being. This cross-sectional study examines how emotional support received from partners and family/friends and gender explains psychological well-being (i.e., stress, depression, anxiety) in a sample of 409 partnered European HIV positive individuals. We hypothesized that gender would modify the associations between support and psychological well-being such that men would benefit more from partner support whereas women would benefit more from family/friend support. Results revealed that regardless of the source of support, men's well-being was more positively influenced by support than was women's well-being. Women's difficulties in receiving emotional support may have deleterious effects on their psychological well-being.

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