Purpose-in-life and social support in gay men with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)




Bechtel, Gregory

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The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between purpose-in-life and social support in gay men with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and gay men who may be at risk for developing AIDS. The study utilized a descriptive-comparative and correlational research design which included written comments from the participants.

Subjects for the study were recruited from gay alliance groups, support groups, and health care agencies that provide assistance to gay men and/or gay men with AIDS. Sixty-seven individuals, 36 with AIDS and 31 at high-risk for developing AIDS, completed the Purpose-in-Life test, the Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire, and a demographic data sheet. Statistical analysis were performed utilizing the SPSSX statistical package.

Results of the study demonstrated a significant difference between purpose-in-life scores in the two groups of gay men although there was not a significant difference between their social support scores. A significant relationship was found between purpose-in-life scores and social support scores across and between both groups.

Income was found to be the only variable consistently related to social support. Strength of religiosity was not correlated with PIL scores although active membership in a religious organization was negatively correlated to those scores. Both groups of individuals had altered their sexual lifestyle following the dissemination of educational material on AIDS.

The study suggests that immediate intervention to facilitate both social support and meaning are paramount in caring for individuals with AIDS. Primary care givers need to facilitate the emotional health of individuals with AIDS and those at risk for developing AIDS by promoting family strengths, facilitating self-awareness, and creating an environment that fosters positive mental and physical health.



AIDs, LGBTQ studies, Purpose-in-life, Support, Social support