Social support is a critical component of treatment and care for people living with HIV. The Infectious Diseases Clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown recently formed support groups for men living with HIV. This study seeks to explore how these support groups can better meet the needs of men living with HIV at the clinic.
This qualitative study consisted of 13 in-depth interviews with eight patients and five clinic staff, and covered topics including preferences for group format and demographics, perceived facilitators and barriers to participation and recommendations for improvement. Study participants were purposively sampled to represent key demographics at the clinic and included staff currently facilitating the men’s support groups. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis to highlight themes within the data, working with MAXQDA 2018.2 software.
Study participants identified four primary elements important for a support group:  an ability to relate to participants;  a sense of community;  a space where they could cope, and  a forum to openly exchange ideas, information and learn. Patients expressed preference for a support group format that allowed for patient-driven topic identification. Study participants determined six overarching facilitators and barriers to participating in a support group, which included personal readiness, food, transportation, scheduling, topics, and group members. Participants discussed how demographics affect group dynamics, with patients identifying socio-economic diversity as the most important characteristic to consider over ethnicity, age and sexual identity. However, participants opposed segmenting support groups on demographics beyond gender. Participants also established additional issues to assess when forming support groups, including dealing and coping with HIV, self-acceptance of HIV status, stigma and existing additional support sources for group members.
Study participants overwhelmingly agree that support groups at the clinic are a vital resource for men living with HIV. Providing avenues for patient ownership and iteratively collecting feedback from participants are important for the support group’s success. Support groups provide critical spaces for men to receive empathy, exchange practical information and deal with HIV, contributing not only to their emotional wellbeing, but working towards sustaining a healthy life.
Table of Contents
Figure 1: The HIV Care Continuum
Population and Sample
Table 1: Study inclusion criteria
Table 2: Staff demographics
Table 3: Patient demographics
Table 4: Overview of in-depth interview guides
Individual conceptualization of the role and purpose of a support group
Feedback on clinic-specific support group format
Support group facilitators and barriers
Viewpoints on support group demographics
Key concerns to consider when forming men’s support groups
Dealing with HIV
Coping with HIV
Then and now – learning and accepting one’s status
Quality improvement recommendations
Table 5: Quality improvement recommendations for the clinic’s support group
Best practices to continue at the clinic
Table 6: Best practices at clinic to note for continued implementation
Strengths and limitations of study
Implications for public health practice
Table 7: Future issues to explore with additional research
Appendix I – In-depth interview guides
About this Master's Thesis
|Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor|
|Learning as you go: building effective support groups for men living with HIV ()||2019-04-20 17:50:52 -0400||