Individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) may be at increased risk of HIV infection. Prevention programs designed specifically for SMI have relied primarily on principles of cognitive-behavior change theories delivered in a small group format and in venues and services utilized by SMI. Most intervention effects have not been shown to be sustainable over time. We report on our findings relating to the importance of music to Puerto Rican women with SMI and the implications for HIV prevention interventions with this population.Methods
We interviewed and shadowed over a 2-year period 53 women of Puerto Rican ethnicity between the ages of 18 and 50, residing in northeastern Ohio, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.Results
Nearly one-half of the participants listened to music regularly. Some reported that music was essential to their lives. Participants reported that music improved their mental and social well-being by facilitating expression and reflection of their emotions and increasing their energy levels.Discussion
Music may affect the core negative symptoms and compensate for neuropsychological deficits in women with schizophrenia and related conditions by facilitating the articulation of emotion and allowing individuals to better attend to and potentially incorporate external activities into their lives. The use of music in HIV prevention efforts with SMI Latinas may facilitate their emotional expression and assist them in integrating the educative efforts into their life style choices.