Perceptions of Social Support, Distress, and Hopelessness in Men with AIDS and ARC: Clinical Implications
Jane Zich Lydia Temoshok Department of Psychiatry/Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute; School of Medicine University of California, San Francisco
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is probably the most frightening public-health problem in this century. In addition to the overwhelming physical debilitation caused by the disease, AIDS has a profound psychosocial impact. The problem of social isolation and the responses of the social system to persons with AIDS and related conditions have been discussed by numerous authors ( Christ, Wiener, & Moynihan, 1986; Coates, Temoshok, & Mandel, 1984; Dilley, Ochitill, Perl, & Volberding, 1985; Forstein, 1984; Green & Miller, 1986; Miller, 1986; Morin & Batchelor, 1984; Siegel, 1986); the more general problem of living with a stigmatizing disease or disability is presented in detail by Goffman ( 1963).
Empirical studies of the relationship between social support and adjustment to AIDS, however, are limited. In their study of 21 homosexual or bisexual male outpatients with AIDS or ARC, Donlou, Wolcott, Gottlieb, and Landsverk ( 1985) used a "Resources and Social Supports Questionnaire". They reported that the total-social-support scale was not significantly correlated with measures of mood disturbance nor with a measure of self-esteem. In a study of psychosocial predicators of reported behavior change in homosexual men at risk for AIDS ( Emmons et al., 1986), supportive social norms were significantly related to attempts to reduce the number of one's sexual partners. No significant relationship was found, however, between a measure of gay social network affiliation and any behavioral outcome.