Using factor analysis to explore nurses' fear of AIDS in the United States of America


Dr J F Wang, Department of Health Systems, School of Nursing, West Virginia University, PO Box 9610 Morgantown, WV 26506-9610, USA


The purpose of this study was to create a reliable research instrument to test the fear of AIDS (FOA) and to explore the dimension of FOA among nurses We hypothesized that certain factors, such as physical closeness to AIDS patients or HIV-positive blood and nontolerance of homosexuals, increase fear of AIDS among nurses A sample of 365 nurses in a mid-Atlantic state of the United States was surveyed with an 82-item Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice (KAP) questionnaire to examine the fear of AIDS among nurses in the United States Using correlation, item and factorial analysis, a 23-item FOA Scale II (alpha = 0 826) was created and seven FOA factors were identified Factor analysis was used to help understand the dimensions of FOA as measured by FOA Scale II Principal components analysis was used to analyse the correlation matrix because some items were on a five-point scale and some were on a three-point scale The varimax rotation was used, because if one were to define dimensions then these dimensions should be as independent of each other as possible The coefficient alpha of 0 826 obtained from using FOA Scale II indicated that FOA could be considered to be a general factor, but the general factor could be exhibited through several avenues It was determined that FOA could be represented by four or by seven dimensions, and if one uses the eigenvalue of 1 for a cut-off point then one would argue that there were seven factors If one used the screen test, then one could assume that there were four factors of interest Our decision for the analysis of this paper was to attempt the interpretation of the seven factors We used both the factor loadings — the correlation of the item score with the linear combination — and the factor score coefficients (the weights of the items to form the linear combinations) to interpret the factor The factor analysis thus seems to give insight into the dimensions of FOA as measured by FOA Scale II Fear of AIDS seems to be exhibited in the following seven ways (a) support for policies which would protect me from AIDS, (b) fear of contact with blood and bodily fluids of AIDS