The Relationship Between HIV Treatment Compliance and Social Support

Introduction

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a major global health concern that has profoundly adverse effects on the level of the infected people’s well-being, their life expectancy, and their life satisfaction. It is important that individuals who are affected by HIV also very often suffer from a serious problem coming from their HIV-positive status – the social stigma. On the other hand, it is possible to suppose that the social support which these people receive may help them to fight their disease, in particular, by better complying with the treatment requirements for their condition. It should also be stressed that certain populations are much more probable to be infected with HIV, and African Americans are among these vulnerable populations (Feaster, Brincks, Mitrani, Prado, Schwartz, & Szapocznik, 2010).

The current paper outlines a future study aimed at exposing the relationship between perceived social support and HIV treatment compliance among African American women infected with HIV. A qualitative research plan is provided; the research question, hypotheses, variables, and the method of analysis are discussed. Because it is paramount to select an adequate sample for research (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015), the sampling methods for the future study are also discussed.

Quantitative Research Plan

In order to find out how the perceived social support is related to HIV treatment compliance among African American women, the following research question may be used: is there a statistically significant relationship between the level of perceived social support and HIV treatment compliance?

The null hypothesis will be as follows: There is no statistically significant relationship between the level of perceived social support and the percentage of the anti-HIV medication missed.

The alternative hypothesis will state: There is a statistically significant relationship between the level of perceived social support and the percentage of the anti-HIV medication missed.

Clearly, the perceived social support will be used as the independent variable, and the HIV treatment compliance assessed as the percentage of the pills missed – as the dependent variable. In order to assess the perceived social support, it is needed to administer a questionnaire that should include questions measuring the level of support that the participants of the study feel that they receive. For this purpose, it is possible to use the 10-item Duke Social Support Index (DSSI-10) as proposed by Wardian, Robbins, Wolfersteig, Johnson, and Dustman (2013). It is concluded that DSSI-10 can be employed “to measure social support for diverse adult populations” (Wardian et al., 2013, p. 100). On the other hand, HIV treatment compliance can be measured by adapting and using the tool that was utilized by Feaster et al. (2010) in their research. In the current study, the tool will be used to estimate the percentage of missed pills during the past week. The relationship between the independent and the dependent variables will be measured by employing the method of simple linear regression. The results will be calculated by utilizing the IBM SPSS statistical package.

For this study, it is possible to use the alpha level of α=.05 and the statistical power of.80, which are standard levels of α and statistical power recommended for use in social research (Trochim, 2006; Warner, 2013). It should be noted, however, that the statistical power can be increased by increasing the sample size (Field, 2013), and that the offered value of.80 is the recommended minimum requirement for the study.

Sampling Strategy

The method of simple random sampling can be used in this study; a certain number of HIV-infected African American women from the urban setting can be enrolled. In order to find these participants, it is possible to contact some of the urban HIV-treatment centers that provide medications for the members of the population who are infected with this virus. These HIV-treatment centers should be selected randomly from the available list. A number of African American female patients of such health care centers will be chosen randomly from the patients who are currently enrolled in these centers. They will be contacted and asked whether it is possible for them to complete the questionnaire. If the patients agree, they will be administered the survey designed for this study.

The Rationale for the Choice of the Sampling Strategy

Simple random sampling will be used due to the fact that it allows for choosing a sample that is representative of the general population. Because it is likely that any person who is infected with HIV will use the same HIV treatment centers in order to address their condition, it is possible to assume that the subdivisions of the HIV-infected African American female population will be represented roughly equally in the patients of these centers. Therefore, the method of simple random sampling may allow for an efficacious selection of the representatives of the population that is the focus of the current study.

Of course, it should be noted that the described sampling procedure may involve some of the characteristics of convenience sampling due to the fact that it might not be possible for the researcher to randomly choose and visit a number of HIV treatment centers from all over the USA. It might be necessary, however, to be able to visit the centers and to personally contact the patients, for some of them may live in poverty and not be able to complete the survey online, for example.

Conclusion

Therefore, it should be stressed that the future study will be aimed at uncovering the relationship between the perceived social support and the level of HIV treatment compliance among African American females who are infected with HIV. In order to do this, a questionnaire that will include the DSSI-10 questions in order to measure the level of perceived social support of the participants, and the questions adapted from Feaster et al. (2010) to measure the HIV treatment compliance, will be provided to some HIV-positive African American women who will be randomly selected from a number of HIV treatment centers. The results of the completed surveys will be used so as to assess the relationship between treatment compliance and perceived social support by using the method of simple linear regression. The computations will be carried out by employing the IBM SPSS statistical software.

References

Feaster, D. J., Brincks, A. M., Mitrani, V. B., Prado, G., Schwartz, S. J., & Szapocznik, J. (2010). The efficacy of structural ecosystems therapy for HIV medication adherence with African American women. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(1), 51-59. Web.

Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Frankfort-Nachmias, C., & Nachmias, D. (2015). Research methods in the social sciences (8th ed.). New York, NY: Worth.

Trochim, W. M. K. (2006). Statistical power. Web.

Wardian, J., Robbins, D., Wolfersteig, W., Johnson, T., & Dustman, P. (2013). Validation of the DSSI-10 to measure social support in a general population. Research on Social Work Practice, 23(1), 100-106. Web.

Warner, R. M. (2013). Applied statistics: From bivariate through multivariate techniques (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.