Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Factors Influencing Anxiety concerning HIV/AIDS in Rehabilitation Workers

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Factors Influencing Anxiety concerning HIV/AIDS in Rehabilitation Workers

Article excerpt

Media attention aimed at dissemination of information regarding the nature of HIV/AIDS may actually increase homophobic attitudes and anxiety concerning this disease and those persons affected. The purpose of this research was to examine factors that influence the anxiety of rehabilitation workers in providing services to persons with HIV/AIDS. Measurements obtained utilizing Spielberger's State/Trait Anxiety inventory showed that the only factors that influenced state anxiety levels were age and the amount of previous contact with persons with HIV/AIDS or homosexuals. Suggestions for training based on the profile of participants are also provided.

Media attention of issues such as HIV/AIDS often causes a corresponding focus from the public. The media attention associated with HIV/AIDS has been aimed at dissemination of information regarding the nature of the disease and prevention methods which often has had the unintended consequence of increasing homophobic attitudes (Magruder, Whitbeck, & Ishii-Kuntz, 1993). Correlational studies that have examined attitudes toward AIDS found that individuals who hold anti-homosexual attitudes are more likely to support repressive measures against people with AIDS (LePoire, Sigelman, Sigelman, & Kenski, 1990; Price & Hsu, 1990; Stipp & Kerr, 1989). Association of the disease with sexual orientation appears to have increased levels of intolerance towards homosexuals. For example, reported rates of hate crimes directed toward gays and lesbians in the San Francisco Bay Area have doubled since 1990 (Magruder, Whitbeck, & Ishii-Kuntz, 1993).

Rehabilitation workers have and are currently dealing with individuals from some of the subgroups effected by the human immunodeficiency virus. They work with people who are accustomed to discrimination as a way of life. The questions that could be asked include: (a) Are rehabilitation workers different in their anxieties concerning individuals with HIV/AIDS? (b) What elements affect the anxiety of rehabilitation workers? and (c) What, if anything, decreases or increases anxiety in rehabilitation workers concerning persons with HIV/AIDS?

Purpose

The purpose of this research was to determine what demographic variables influenced anxiety concerning HIV/AIDS in rehabilitation workers. Research of this nature will assist agencies in determination of training priorities for employees at all levels. There are some workers who may need more intensive interventions than others.

Literature Review

The number of persons who are HIV positive continues to increase despite educational efforts aimed at lifestyles and behavior changes. These changes involve behaviors that historically have had little public discussion and are behaviors that many individuals find offensive. As the number of individuals with HIV/AIDS grows, so will the need to provide services to these people. An extensive review of the rehabilitation literature over the past five years, conducted by hand and by computer search, revealed that little has been written concerning rehabilitation workers and their reactions to persons with HIV/AIDS. One article (All & Fried, 1994) addressed the psychosocial issues of HIV/AIDS that affect rehabilitation and Hunt (1995), investigated the level of HIV/AIDS training conducted in rehabilitation counseling programs. Hunt (1995) additionally, documented the lack of research on HIV/AIDS in rehabilitation publications over the past ten years. Useful information and research was found in health care, counseling, psychology, and social work journals.

Anxiety about AIDS is not limited to the general public. Workers in human service fields are worried about their vulnerability to the disease. This fear continues despite well-designed studies that demonstrate the relatively low risk of patient/human service worker exposure when universal precautions and other risk reduction behaviors are employed (Reeder, Hamblet, Killen, King, & Uruburu; 1994). …

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