Purpose in Life and Depressive Symptoms in Persons Living with HIV Disease

Authors

  • Debra E. Lyon,

    Corresponding author
    1. Debra E. Lyon, RN, PhD, Beta Kappa & Gamma Omega, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia School of Nursing, Charlottesville, VA
      Dr. Lyon, University of Virginia School of Nursing, PO Box 800782, McLeod Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22908–0782. E-mail: del2a@virginia.edu
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Janet B. Younger

    1. Janet B. Younger, PhD, RN, Gamma Omega, Professor and Associate Dean, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing, Richmond, VA
    Search for more papers by this author

Dr. Lyon, University of Virginia School of Nursing, PO Box 800782, McLeod Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22908–0782. E-mail: del2a@virginia.edu

Abstract

Purpose: To examine relationships among purpose in life, HIV disease severity, demographic variables, and depressive symptoms in people living with HIV disease (PLWHIV). The hypothesis tested was that purpose in life is a stronger predictor of depressive symptoms than is HIV disease severity.

Design: Descriptive, correlational study using a convenience sample of 123 PLWHIV recruited from an urban infectious disease clinic in a university teaching hospital in the Southeast United States.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire, including a sociodemographic tool, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and the Purpose in Life Scale (PIL), was used to collect data. Concurrent severity of HIV disease measures included HIV RNA viral load, CD4+ T-lymphocyte count, and the Revised HIV Medical Symptom Scale. Analytical methods included descriptive and inferential statistics and hierarchical regression analysis.

Findings: Depressive symptoms were greater and purpose in life was lower than in normative samples. Purpose in life was a stronger predictor of depressive symptoms than was HIV disease severity.

Conclusions: Purpose in life was more important than were laboratory markers of disease progression for predicting depressive co-morbidity. Results from this study indicate the need for routine assessment of depressive symptoms in PLWHIV. Purpose in life should be explored as a potential buffer for depressive symptoms.

Ancillary