Background: Self-care is one of the challenges that people with HIV/AIDS face in the long-term symptom management of the disease.
Objective: To identify the category schemes of self-care strategies and sources of information for symptom management reported by HIV-positive individuals.
Methods: A secondary analysis was conducted in a large dataset of an HIV/AIDS symptom management study. Narrative data of symptom self-care management strategies and sources of information for symptom management were analyzed by a content analysis technique to identify category schemes. The 359 participants in the study reported 776 symptom self-care strategies and 526 sources of information for these strategies.
Results: The symptom self-care management strategies were summarized into eight categories: medications (23.45%), self-comforting (15.21%), complementary treatments (14.69%), daily thoughts and activities (12.89%), diet changing (10.95%), help seeking (9.28%), spiritual care (6.83%), and exercise (6.70%). There were four categories of information sources: self (34.41%), healthcare provider (27.95%), personal network (19.20%), and community (18.44%). The category schemes had moderate to high interrater reliability (Cohen’s kappa: .49–1.00 for self-care strategy and .70–.87 for source of information). Most of the self-care stratgies were preceived as helpful. Except for complementary treatments, self-care strategies were used differently among people with the six most frequently occurring symptoms (χ2 [5, n = 286] = 28.53–79.89).
Discussion: The eight categories of self-care strategies identified in this study showed that people with HIV/AIDS not only seek the help of medications, but also follow a wide array of other self-developed or self-taught nonpharmaceutical strategies to allay their symptoms.