BACKGROUND - People living with HIV who maintain a positive outlook on their future may manage stress better than those who do not, leading to improved coping behaviors and better health outcomes.
METHODS - While studying 125 HIV+ adults participating in two clinical trials of expressive writing we assessed their HIV-specific meaningfulness of life with a short, unidimensional scale (the HIVMS).
RESULTS - The HIVMS had a strong Cronbach's alpha (0.80) and acceptable test-retest reliability (0.70). HIVMS scores were strongly correlated with measures of perceived control, optimism, and psychological well-being. Participants with lower HIVMS scores had higher probability of non-adherence to antiretroviral medication, suggesting a decreased ability to manage their illness successfully. Neither the control nor expressive writing intervention groups showed increased HIVMS scores.
CONCLUSIONS - Future research is necessary to determine the effect of HIV meaning on long-term health outcomes and to develop interventions that can significantly improve a person's perception of their meaning in life.