HIV Patients With Greater Pain, Poor Coping Skills Suffer More
March 5, 2003
University of North Texas researchers found that HIV patients who live in pain and use poor coping strategies to handle the stress of their condition report that they have less energy and more limits on their physical, social and work activities.Adapted from:
Mark Vosvick, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of North Texas reported that patients who use self-distraction techniques or "give up trying to deal with" HIV-related stress feel less energetic, and those who use self-distraction or drugs or alcohol to cope say that their health limits their social activities. The most common coping strategies for patients were self-distraction and "venting" about unpleasant feelings to relieve stress, according to the study.
The 142 HIV-positive men and women studied said pain diminished their quality of life, affecting everything from their ability to carry groceries to their performance at work and at school. Forty percent reported having moderate to severe pain.
"When treating patients with HIV, health care providers must attend not only to disease status but also to the individual's reports of pain," Vosvick said. "This is particularly important given that pain is often undertreated in AIDS patients."
The investigators concluded that developing and encouraging more adaptive stress coping mechanisms should become a priority for HIV care, especially since so many patients are living longer lives. "Unfortunately, some coping strategies used to reduce immediate stress may incur a high cost in terms of poorer quality of life over time," Vosvick noted.
The report, "Relationship of Functional Quality of Life to Strategies for Coping with the Stress of Living with HIV/AIDS," appeared in the January-February 2003 issue of Psychosomatics (2003;44:51-58).
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.