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Spiritual Activities as a Resistance Resource for Women With Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Sowell, Richard; Moneyham, Linda; Hennessy, Michael; Guillory, Joyce; Demi, Alice; Seals, Brenda


Background: Few studies have investigated the role that spiritual activities play in the adaptational outcomes of women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease.

Objective: To examine the role of spiritual activities as a resource that may reduce the negative effects of disease-related stressors on the adaptational outcomes in HIV-infected women.

Methods: A theoretically based causal model was tested to examine the role of spiritual activities as a moderator of the impact of HIV-related stressors (functional impairment, work impairment, and HIV-related symptoms) on two stress-related adaptational outcomes (emotional distress and quality of life), using a clinic-based sample of 184 HIV-positive women.

Results: Findings indicated that as spiritual activities increased, emotional distress decreased even when adjustments were made for HIV-related stressors. A positive relationship between spiritual activities and quality of life was found, which approached significance. Findings showed that HIV-related stressors have a significant negative effect on both emotional distress and quality of life.

Conclusions: The findings support the hypothesis that spiritual activities are an important psychological resource accounting for individual variability in adjustment to the stressors associated with HIV disease.

Richard Sowell, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a professor and Chair, Department of Administrative and Clinical Nursing, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Linda Moneyham, DNS, RN, is a research associate professor, College of Nursing, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Michael Hennessy, PhD, MPH, is an adjunct professor, Department of Sociology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Joyce Guillory, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor and Director, Cancer Prevention Awareness Program, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.

Alice Demi, DNS, RN, FAAN, is a professor, School of Nursing, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Brenda Seals, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor, Urban Public Health Sciences, Hunter College, New York, New York.

Accepted for publication June 19, 1998.

The authors acknowledge the women who participated in this study and the diligent research staff from the Family Coping Project. This research was funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cooperative Agreement U64/CCU408293. This study was conducted as a project of AID Atlanta, Inc.

Address reprint requests to Richard L. Sowell, 3205 Cornwall Road, Columbia, SC 29204.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.