Family caring in HIV/AIDS : experiences, coping and mental health
This study investigated the experiences of family caregivers of persons living with HIV/AIDS in two contexts of development - Kerala and Scotland. Although the study was primarily qualitative in nature, it incorporated some quantitative methodology in order to connect the findings to existing literature on stress, coping, and mental health. In-depth interviews were conducted with 23 respondents in Kerala and 5 in Scotland. Interview transcripts were analyzed for major themes, using elements of grounded theory. Quantitative measures included the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (Folkman & Lazarus, 1985) and the Self Report Questionnaire (Beusenberg & Orley, 1994). Results were analyzed for differences in coping style and mental health between the settings. Exploratory correlational and regression analyses were also conducted. The results indicated that caregivers from both contexts experienced significant burdens. The major experiences of the caregivers in Kerala consisted of poverty, stigmatization, discrimination, lack of support networks and adequate healthcare facilities. While the caregivers in Scotland shared some of these experiences at a lesser degree, their dominant experiences centred on caregiving stress, limited support, role stress, difficulty finding and maintaining a job, and lack of recognition of carers' needs. Quantitative findings indicated that carers in Scotland used a wider array of coping strategies and were more likely to rely on problem-focused coping than the Kerala respondents. Although the carers in both settings experienced significant indicators of psychological distress, the level of symptoms was higher for the carers in Kerala. Correlational and regression analyses explored relationships among setting, gender, coping, and mental health problems. The findings were discussed in terms of the existing literature related to familycaring in HIV/AIDS, coping, and mental health. Synthesis of the findings led to the emergence of three unifying concepts of struggle, commitment and resilience. A model was proposed that explained the relationship among the three unifying concepts.