A Qualitative Description of HIV-Infected African American Women's Experiences of Psychological Distress and Their Coping Strategies

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HIV-infected individuals are at risk for psychological distress, including depression, sadness, and suicidality. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to examine 22 HIV-infected African American women's experiences of psychological distress and use of coping strategies. Data were collected through in-person one-on-one interviews until conceptual saturation was reached. Data were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Four themes were found: (a) psychoemotional suffering, (b) contextual factors negatively influence the everydayness of living with HIV infection, (c) HIV-related stigma perpetuates isolation and loneliness, and (d) creating a safe haven. Implications for nurses and other health care providers include (a) holistic assessment to include evaluation of emotional and mental state, and (b) coping strategies. Integration of spiritual practices into plan of care is also important. Development and evaluation of individualized coping interventions that address stigma and psychological distress through holistic modalities is warranted.

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