Attitudes of people with HIV disease towards HIV have seldom been measured. However, a well-established scale to measure attitudes toward cancer in those with the disease, the 38-item Mental Adjustment to Cancer (MAC) scale was modified to assess adjustment to HIV disease. We administered the scale to 107 Australian men with HIV infection, of whom 36 had an AIDS-defining condition, who were patients at an ambulatory care facility and in a research study. The data were factor analyzed using a method identical to that used in the development of the MAC scale to determine the latent dimensions of attitudes toward HIV/AIDS. The Mental Adjustment to HIV scale (MAH) factor analysis revealed five factors: Helplessness-Hopelessness, Fighting Spirit, and Denial-Avoidance as in the original MAC scale, plus a Fatalism subscale which also measured Preoccupation, and a new subscale, which measured Belief in Influencing the Course of the Disease. Together, these five factors accounted for half of the variance. These data suggest that while there are similarities between mental attitude to cancer and mental attitude to HIV in the latent dimensions of the questionnaire items, there are also some differences. Most significant is the belief in people with HIV disease in being able to personally influence the course of the illness, and the combination of Preoccupation with Fatalism. The five subscales of the MAH scale had Cronbach’s alpha reliabilities between 0.80 and 0.55. The MAH appears to be a useful way to measure total attitudes and subscale scores of people with HIV infection, including AIDS, to their disease.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The data collection in Adelaide was a part of a research project supported by a grant from the Australian Committee on AIDS Research Grants.
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