The psychological effects of support groups on individuals infected by the AIDS virus

Cancer Nurs. 1990 Oct;13(5):278-85.


Support groups have been suggested as the best way to help individuals with AIDS to cope. The purpose of this research was to determine whether participation in an AIDS support group would significantly decrease the level of anxiety and hopelessness in individuals with AIDS. Subjects in the study were volunteers from three support groups at AID Atlanta. The groups included (a) 11 men with classic AIDS, (b) 6 men with AIDS or AIDS-related complex (ARC), and (c) 5 minority women with AIDS or ARC. A demographic form and two questionnaires that dealt with anxiety and hopelessness were administered as a pretest and posttest. The results of the demographic data analyses showed that groups 1 and 2 were similar, whereas group 3 was dissimilar to both groups 1 and 2. Findings further indicate that group 3 had a significantly greater decrease in hopelessness scores after participating in the AIDS support group. This group also had a greater decrease in anxiety scores but not at a significant level. In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that participation in an AIDS support group does decrease the level of anxiety and hopelessness. Therefore, the impact on society is to educate individuals with AIDS and professional persons who work with this population to be aware of the psychological benefits that support groups do provide these individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*