Depressive symptomatology, daily stressors, and ways of coping among middle-age and older adults living with HIV disease


Journal Article

New cases of HIV infection are rapidly escalating among middle-age and older adults, and older persons with AIDS are living longer than ever before. However, because the vast majority of AIDS mental health research has focused on younger persons, health science researchers know little about stressors that affect HIV-infected older adults, their coping efforts employed to resolve these stressors, and whether the presence of psychological distress alters their coping responses. The current study surveyed 113 midlife and older adults (M age = 53.4 years) living with HIV/AIDS in New York City and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and assessed levels of depressive symptomatology, daily stressors, and the relationship between coping and depression. Approximately 29% of participants reported 'moderate' or 'severe' levels of depression as assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory. HIV-infected older adults with elevated levels of depression experienced more stress due to poor finances, lack of HIV-related information and support resources, and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. When attempting to resolve significant stressors, depressed older persons more often distanced themselves from the stressor, used more escape-avoidant coping, and less frequently found something positive in the stressful situation. As AIDS affects more people of all ages, mental health interventions that enhance the coping abilities of older persons with HIV/AIDS - especially those with elevated levels of psychological distress - are urgently needed.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Heckman, TG; Kochman, A; Sikkema, KJ; Kalichman, SC

Published Date

  • December 1, 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 5 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 311 - 322

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1078-4470

Citation Source

  • Scopus