This study seeks to assess the conditions experienced by informal caregivers to people with AIDS and the effects of these conditions on their physical and mental health and their ability to continue in the caregiving role. A variety of psychosocial stressors will be examined in relation to caregivers' well-being. However, because their well-being may also be influenced by their own HIV status, considerable effort is directed to gathering information about caregivers' health and health practices. Such information, together with appropriate analytical strategies, will assist in distinguishing psychosocial effects from those of HIV status. A sample of 450 caregivers will be recruited. The PWAs for whom they care will be gay men who reside either in their own home or that of the caregiver. Caregivers will be interviewed three times at intervals of 6 months so as to observe changes in their well-being and to identify the antecedents of such changes. Pilot interviews have revealed that caregivers confront a variety of stressors. Some are embedded in the demands of caregiving itself, and we refer to these as primary stressors. Caregiving can also create problems in other areas of life, most notably in occupational, financial, and social domains. These kinds of stressors, which are created by caregiving but do not involve it, we refer to as secondary stressors. Both primary and secondary stressors are multi-dimensional. The impact of the stressors, we believe, is mediated by several factors: the coping repertoires of the caregivers; the level of certain self-concepts, self-esteem and mastery, in particular; the social supports on which the caregiver can call; and the availability and use of community programs and resources. The buffering effects of each will be studied. From prior pilot work, a host of provisional measures has been constructed, tapping the major constructs of the research. In the latter stages of the study, a conference of health policy personnel will be organized with the goal of identifying and incorporating relevant research findings into intervention programs and policies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychobiological, Biological, and Neurosciences Subcommittee (MHAI)
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University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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Turner, H A; Pearlin, L I; Mullan, J T (1998) Sources and determinants of social support for caregivers of persons with AIDS. J Health Soc Behav 39:137-51
Wight, R G; LeBlanc, A J; Aneshensel, C S (1998) AIDS caregiving and health among midlife and older women. Health Psychol 17:130-7
Pearlin, L I; Aneshensel, C S; LeBlanc, A J (1997) The forms and mechanisms of stress proliferation: the case of AIDS caregivers. J Health Soc Behav 38:223-36
Leblanc, A J; London, A S; Aneshensel, C S (1997) The physical costs of AIDS caregiving. Soc Sci Med 45:915-23