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Keywords:

  • spirituality;
  • HIV disease;
  • spiritual perspective;
  • health;
  • well-being;
  • psychosocial measures;
  • stress;
  • quality of life;
  • uncertainty;
  • coping

Spirituality and psychosocial factors in persons living with HIV

Aim of the study. This pilot study was designed to examine the relationships among spirituality and psychosocial factors in a sample of 52 adult males living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease and to determine the most reliable spirituality measure for a proposed longitudinal study.

Background. HIV disease is among the most devastating of illnesses, having multiple and profound effects upon all aspects of the biopsychosocial and spiritual being. Although research has suggested relationships among various psychosocial and spiritual factors, symptomatology and physical health, much more research is needed to document their potential influences on immune function, as well as health status, disease progression, and quality of life among persons with HIV disease.

Methods. This descriptive correlational study explored the relationships of spirituality and psychosocial measures. Spirituality was measured in terms of spiritual perspective, well-being and health using three tools: the Spiritual Perspective Scale, the Spiritual Well-Being Scale, and the Spiritual Health Inventory. Five psychosocial instruments were used to measure aspects of stress and coping: the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale, Dealing with Illness Scale, Social Provisions Scale, Impact of Events Scale, and Functional Assessment of HIV Infection Scale. The sample was recruited as part of an ongoing funded study. The procedures from the larger study were well-defined and followed in this pilot study. Correlational analyses were done to determine the relationship between spirituality and the psychosocial measures.

Findings. The findings indicate that spirituality as measured by the existential well-being (EWB) subscale of the Spiritual Well-Being Scale was positively related to quality of life, social support, effective coping strategies and negatively related to perceived stress, uncertainty, psychological distress and emotional-focused coping. The other spirituality measures had less significant or non significant relationships with the psychological measures.

Conclusions. The study findings support the inclusion of spirituality as a variable for consideration when examining the psychosocial factors and the quality of life of persons living with HIV disease. The spiritual measure that best captures these relationships is the EWB subscale of the Spiritual Well-Being Scale.