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Overcoming depressed moods after an HIV+ diagnosis : a critical incident analysis Alfonso, Victoria


The experience of being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is extremely stressful and often depressing. Presently there is a trend to study the psychological implications of HIV/AIDS. A majority of these investigations have consisted of quantitative studies that excluded people's "voice" from within. The present study attempts to bridge this gap. Flanagan's (1954) Critical Incident Analysis methodology was used in this study to investigate what facilitates the process of dealing with depressed moods after an HIV+ diagnosis. Resiliency was also analyzed. A total of 246 critical incidents were collected. Thirteen categories emerged from an inductive study of the incidents reported by the 11 co-researchers. The results indicate that the facilitative categories of personal strategies employed by the participants are the following: (a) physical exercise, (b) participation in activities, (c) commitment to life, (d) career/work, (e) alcohol/drugs, (f) connection with self, (g) looking for meaning, (h) helping others, (i) gaining understanding of the problem, (j) sharing the news, (k) learning from a role model, (I) spiritual connection, and (m) establishing social connection. A strong thematic similarity was found between the categories that emerged from this study and the self-reported resilient aspects of the co-researchers. The validity of the categories was confirmed by: independent rater, expert rater, co-researchers' crosschecking, exhaustiveness participation rate, and theoretical agreement. Resiliency emerged as a viable psychological construct in the analysis of the data. Counselling implications are discussed, and practical ways of applying a model of resiliency are suggested.

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