A grounded theory of social participation among older women living with HIV

Can J Occup Ther. 2013 Oct;80(4):241-50. doi: 10.1177/0008417413501153.


Background: As adults age with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the role for rehabilitation continues to emerge. Understanding how social participation is affected among women aging with HIV can inform occupational therapy assessment and treatment.

Purpose: Our purpose was to develop a theoretical model that describes the experiences of social participation from the perspective of older women living with HIV.

Method: A grounded theory methodological approach was utilized. We conducted interviews with 20 women living with HIV, age 50 or older, to explore various aspects of social participation, including self-care, relationships with others, and access to health and social services. Emergent themes informed the theoretical model.

Findings: The theoretical model comprises four concepts related to social participation: social engagement, social isolation, contrasting perceptions about factors variably influencing participation, and contextual influences that may enhance or hinder social participation.

Implications: Women aging with HIV experience social participation as a dynamic process involving social engagement and isolation. Contextual influences may promote and impede social participation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Body Image
  • Disclosure
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy / organization & administration*
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Participation*
  • Social Stigma