XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Health care students' willingness to interact with patients living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA): examining the influence of attributions, prejudicial evaluation, perception of occupational risk and emotions

J. Philip

The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Department of Behavioural Sciences, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

Background: Care and treatment of HIV patients are critical factors in dealing with the HIV epidemic. Factors which adversely affect health providers' care of patients living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) have serious implications for the epidemic. This study examined the effect of cognitive and affective variables on health care students' (HCS) willingness to interact with PLWHA. Cognitive factors (attributions of blame, perception of occupational risk, and prejudicial evaluation) and emotional factors (fear, anger, empathy and disgust) have direct effects on health care providers' delivery of treatment and care to PLWHA.
Methods: Participants were 344 health care students (nurses, dentists, medical & surgical doctors) from a university/teaching hospital in Trinidad including 87males (26%) and 252 females (74%). A vignette manipulated a patient's sexual orientation (homosexual/ heterosexual) and onset controllability (HIV infection through promiscuous sexual activity/HIV infection through blood transfusion). A two by two (2x2) factorial design was therefore used. Data was collected via a self- administered paper- pencil questionnaire. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), multiple regression and Sobel test for mediation were used.
Results: Main effect of onset controllability on participants' attributions, emotions, prejudicial evaluation, and willingness to interact was significant, F(10, 339) = 57.79, p < .001. The cognitive and affective variables explained a significant proportion of variance in respondents' willingness to interact with PLWHA, R2 = .38, F( 9, 329) = 23.55, p < .001. Emotions fully and partially mediated between attributions and willingness to interact at p < .05.
Conclusions: HIV patients' onset controllability and (HCS) prejudicial evaluations have negative consequences for delivery of care and treatment to PLWHA. Emotions are essential in enhancing patient - provider relationship and should be emphasized within the curriculum for training of health care students.

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