Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

AIDS Knowledge among Rehabilitation Professionals

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

AIDS Knowledge among Rehabilitation Professionals

Article excerpt

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first recognized in 1981. Since that time the number of new cases diagnosed each year has increased dramatically (Eisenberg, 1989). Along with the increased number of diagnosed cases per year is an increased level of concern on the part of the helping professions about the various needs of people with AIDS and the training/education required for care givers.

There was a reported 37% increase in the number of new AIDS cases diagnosed from October, 1990 to October, 1992 (Allen, 1993), and annual increases in new cases are expected to continue since current treatment is palliative at best (Eisenberg, 1989). As of October 1994, there were 429,923 diagnosed cases of AIDS in the United States (Arkansas Department of Health, 1995). An estimated 1 to 1.5 million Americans are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus generally believed to cause AIDS (Centers for Disease Control, 1991).

The growth in the number of AIDS cases, the inclusion of AIDS patients under the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the reality that persons with AIDS are finding their way onto rehabilitation caseloads suggests that AIDS cases will place substantial demands on rehabilitation professionals in the near future (Backer, 1988). Most states have recognized AIDS as a disability by way of court decisions, formal policy, general agency practices or public statements (Rapoport & Zevnik, 1989), or acceptance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) view of HIV as a chronic illness. Consequently, the need and demand for vocational rehabilitation services will be growing in the coming years.

At the present time there appears to be little research dealing with rehabilitation professionals and AIDS. Computer searches of Index Medicus, PsycLIT, and Educational Resource Information Center (ERiC) identified few articles addressing rehabilitation professionals and AIDS. There were no articles found assessing knowledge about AIDS among rehabilitation professionals.

However, as with other professions, the knowledge level about AIDS held by rehabilitation professionals can affect services delivered. Similar studies within other professions have indicated a great deal of misinformation about AIDS (Cohen & Grace, 1989; Douglas, Kalman & Kalman, 1985; Kelly, St. Lawrence, Hood, Smith, & Cook, 1987a; Kelly et at., 1987b; Kelly et al., 1988; Sarvela & Moore, 1989; Vincent & Schkade, 1990).

The purpose of this study was to examine rehabilitation professionals' knowledge about the AIDS virus, transmission routes and to assess any statistically significant differences within demographic variables on AIDS knowledge.

Method

Instrumentation

The instrument selected for this study was a combined, modified version of the AIDS knowledge subsection of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) developed by the National Center for Health Statistics and the modes of transmission section of the AIDS Questionnaire developed by Drs. Mark J. Kittleson and John S. Venglarcik. The NHIS instrument includes items on self-assessment of knowledge about AIDS, self-assessment of chances of getting the AIDS virus, primary source(s) of information on AIDS, and recent experience with blood donation.

In a similar study, the NHIS survey reported a .88 internal-consistency reliability rating using Cronbach's Alpha on the misinformation scale (Samuels, 1989). In another, similar study, the AIDS questionnaire developed by Kittleson and Venglarcik exhibited a Cronbach's alpha of .86, (Kittleson, Elliott, Hoalt & DeMattei, 1991).

Participants were asked to provide demographic data and to respond to a series of general information questions and to a series of questions about the modes of HIV infectious transmission. In addition, an open-ended comments section was included. On the general information section the possible responses included: true, false, and don't know. …

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