Academic journal article Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice

Measuring Attitudes toward Persons with AIDS: The AAS-G as an Alternate Form of the AAS

Academic journal article Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice

Measuring Attitudes toward Persons with AIDS: The AAS-G as an Alternate Form of the AAS

Article excerpt

For most of the score of years that the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has been with us, we have been concerned with the care of and attitudes toward AIDS patients. As the treatment and face of AIDS changes, not all of those suffering with the disease are considered patients. Many are active community members, young and old, male and female. The AIDS Attitude Scale (AAS) is a widely used measure of health professionals' attitudes toward persons with AIDS who are patients. That scale was developed with the intended audience of respondents being nurses or others dealing directly with AIDS patients. This research details the development and validation of an alternate form of the AAS, the AAS-G, intended for use with the general public. The AAS-G may be completed by lay members of the community and is not limited to assessing attitudes toward patients alone. Reliability and validity information, Classical Test Theory estimates and Generalizability Theory estimates for psychometrics on the AAS-G are reported. These estimates are compared to the same estimates available for the AAS in order to make informed decisions about the utility of the new AAS-G. The AAS-G appears to be a promising, efficient instrument for measuring the attitudes of lay individuals toward persons with AIDS.

The population of individuals with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has continued to increase since the early 1980s. The face of AIDS has changed. Those initially diagnosed with the disease were overwhelmingly characterized as being either homosexuals or IV drug users. Currently, more than 13% of new AIDS cases are women and 2% of cases are children under 13. The number of those infected and those with active AIDS continues to increase, with 370,000 cases documented in 1998. Although AIDS is the leading cause of death in Americans ages 25 to 44 regardless of gender (CDC, 1995; Rosen, 1999), many of those with the disease are surviving longer and are active community members rather than patients. New drug treatments mean that more children with HIV are attending school and interacting with teachers, counselors, administrators, and others. AIDS sufferers are living longer and more routine lives. Many are now out of the hospitals and into everyday life activities.

Initially, persons with AIDS (PWA) were primarily of concern in the health care environment. Early studies, and even many published recently, focused on attitudes of health care workers toward their clients, or more specifically their patients, with HIV or AIDS. The interests of researchers have now expanded beyond just considering AIDS patients. As PWA live longer, they participate actively outside the hospital setting and other health care environments. PWA are on sports teams, in social service agencies, lawyers' offices, prisons, dental offices, day-care centers, and the community at large. Contact with PWA is thus no longer restricted to health care providers. All individuals, whether in job, social, or recreational activities, are likely to encounter PWA. Although there has been abundant study of caregivers' attitudes toward PWA, there has been little study and understanding of community-based persons' attitudes toward AIDS sufferers when these individuals are not patients per se (Robinson, 1998).

Concern over health care providers' attitudes toward PWA has a history almost as long as the recognition of the disease. Professionals providing care cannot avoid AIDS patients or deny them services. Unfortunately, as a result of the attitudes toward lifestyle choices that characterized many of the earliest AIDS patients (homosexual or IV drug use), there were a variety of negative stereotypes against PWA. This led to concern about biases caregivers might carry with them in their interactions with AIDS patients. Given the change in the numbers of PWA and their growing activity in the community, interest in knowing about the attitudes people carry with them toward PWA has spread beyond the institutional health care environment. …

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