Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Relationship between Health-Related Quality of Life and Social Support in HIV-Infected People in Tehran, Iran

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Relationship between Health-Related Quality of Life and Social Support in HIV-Infected People in Tehran, Iran

Article excerpt

Introduction

With advances in medical treatment and an in-crease in the life expectancy of HIV patients, qual-ity of life (QOL) has been considered an im-portant indicator of the health assessment and treatment in this group of patients (1). It can be said that QOL assessment in patients with ac-quired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a way to get closer to their experience of the differ-ent treatments they undergo, and understanding the psychosocial aspects of an illness that needs long-term treatment (2).

QOL is defined as physical, social, and psycholog-ical domains of health that are affected by experi-ences, beliefs, expectations, and individual percep-tions (3). Thus, QOL should be evaluated from different physical, mental, and social angles and dimensions. Nowadays, it has been recognized that in addition to medical therapy, different psy-chosocial factors such as social support can also be effective in the treatment process of AIDS (1). Various studies have shown that social support, as a critical factor, may have an important role in treatment and health outcomes, and consequently, in the QOL of people with chronic diseases, in-cluding HIV patients (4, 5). Though social support theories emphasize the role of actual and per-ceived support, evidence has shown that the posi-tive effects of social support on one's health have been based on scales that have examined people's perceptions, and their satisfaction with the availa-ble or perceived support they have received (6). Individual cognitive evaluation (7) of family sup-port and perceived support is the most important dimension of social support that causes a person to connect to another.

Individuals who were more satisfied with social support were likelier to report lower HIV-related health symptoms, suggesting that social support is a robust predictor of health outcomes over time, independent of coping styles and baseline medical status (7, 8). AIDS and HIV infection can cause stress in a person's social network structure, which results in dissolution of social relations, thus re-ducing social support for HIV patients (9). People with HIV experience adverse social and physical consequences when others learn they are infected. These conditions have been found to dampen so-cial support and lead to psychological distress, and deterioration of their QOL and life satisfaction (10-12).

Some investigations have showed the importance of the relationship between social support and QOL in men and women living with HIV (7, 13-15). Although social support and QOL are im-portant factors that affect the health of HIV pa-tients, few studies have been done in these fields (14). Since most of the research has been con-ducted in developed countries, there is no guaran-tee that these results can be generalized to the populations of developing countries. Social sup-port and QOL of people in these countries can vary from what people in developed countries are facing (14). Two studies about QOL have been conducted among HIV patients in Iran (16, 17).

The research is aimed at investigating the relation-ship between social support and health-related quality of life (HRQL) in Iranians with HIV/AIDS.

Methods

Participants

This cross-sectional study was conducted in the first half of 2010 using a random sampling meth-od on 120 patients living with HIV or suffering from AIDS. The sample consisted of data on 80 men and 40 women living with HIV, whose medi-cal records from 2010 were obtained from the Iranian AIDS research center of the Imam Kho-meini Hospital. Information regarding each pa-tient's age, gender, marital status, work status, and education was analyzed.

Measurements

For data collection, Vaux Social Support and Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36 (SF-36) QOL questionnaires were used.

A) Social support questionnaire: A patient's social support was assessed with the Social Support Ap-praisals Scale (SS-A). The SS-A is a twenty-three-item questionnaire that includes three areas: family, friends, and others (18). …

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