Purpose in life and psychosocial networks in gay men across the spectrum of HIV disease

Kim Lesley Knorr (1991)

This study examined purpose in life and psychosocial network patterns in gay men across the spectrum of HIV disease. The study was grounded in existential theory (i.e., Victor Frankl's concept of purpose in life), and utilized research findings pertaining to the psychosocial factors of support networks and preferred types of support. Purpose in Life was measured using the P.I.L. questionnaire. Psychosocial network patterns were measured by rank-ordering of support people and specific types of support. A comparative analysis of the data was conducted using four groups: 10 completely HIV asymptomatic and healthy gay men, 10 gay men with HIV seropositivity, 10 with ARC, and 10 with AIDS. In addition to quantitative analysis of the relationship between purpose in life and social support, qualitative analyses of existentially related coping themes were conducted on the open-ended portions of the P.I.L. questionnaire. Data suggests trends in two specific areas: that gay men in the ARC phase of HIV disease experienced a decline in purpose in life, and that psychosocial networks reflect preferences for emotional support from primarily lovers, biological family, and gay or straight friends. Therapeutic implications were briefly discussed. Specifically, the role of denial in not seeking treatment and the selection of treatment choices across groups was addressed.