Mental Health and HIV/AIDS: A Thematic Analysis of Communication and Support for People Living with HIV/AIDS in an Online Support Group
Qualitative research on HIV/AIDS and the use of online support groups has suggested that participants benefit from them in terms of empowerment and emotional support. However there is almost no information available on the specific topic of mental health and concerns that people living with HIV/AIDS have around the topic, and what the role is of forums when participants look for orientation and relief from psychological distress. The aim of this study was to explore trends in discussion about mental health in online support groups and to try to identify usual concerns and strategies that members share in the forums when they address the matter of psychological distress, including mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Thematic analysis of 701 messages posted by 220 members in a forum about mental health and HIV/AIDS revealed three themes: ‘Therapy almighty?’, ‘Swallow the pill or not’, and ‘Being lonely is not helping’. The findings suggest that participants tend to idealise therapy, medicine and companionship, which are the three main alternatives of solution to problems discussed in the online forum. This idealisation might be due to the uncertainties and burdens inherent to HIV/AIDS, and the need for hope in definitive solutions to the multiple problems this population can face. While other studies have considered online support groups as a source of relief themselves, our findings suggests that participants use them as a mean to mainly look for answers, obtaining only references to other resources that could actually have those desired answers.
José Daniel Gil-Fortoul Bucheli,
Mental Health and HIV/AIDS: A Thematic Analysis of Communication and Support for People Living with HIV/AIDS in an Online Support Group, International Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Education and Behavioural Science.
Vol. 4, No. 2,
2018, pp. 26-34.
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