Psychosocial well-being and quality of life among women newly diagnosed with genital herpes

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2009 May-Jun;38(3):320-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2009.01026.x.


Objective: To assess the psychosocial well-being and quality of life among women with a new genital herpes simplex virus diagnosis.

Design: Data were collected by a cross-sectional survey.

Participants: Eighty-three women diagnosed with genital herpes simplex virus by culture, visual exam and/or a description of symptoms within the last 3 months were recruited from primary health care clinics by their provider.

Measures: Participants completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Recurrent Genital Herpes Quality of Life scale.

Results: Thirty-four percent of the women qualified as "clinical cases" for depression, and 64% were designated as "anxiety cases" based on Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale scoring methods. A majority of participants reported feeling ashamed about having herpes and worried about having an outbreak or giving herpes to someone else.

Conclusions: Despite substantial progress toward understanding genital herpes simplex virus epidemiology and transmission, a diagnosis of genital herpes continues to cause considerable psychosocial morbidity and to impact quality of life. There is a dearth of good evidence on how best to intervene to minimize the psychological impact of a diagnosis. Experts recommend addressing both the medical and psychological aspects of infection by providing antiviral therapy, written material, and resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / diagnosis
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Genitalis / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult