Ethnicity moderates the relationship between perceived stress and benefit finding in HIV+ men who have sex with men (MSM)

Julia S Seay, Erin M Fekete, Michael H Antoni, Gail Ironson, MaryAnn Fletcher, Neil Schneiderman
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 2014, 21 (2): 266-74

BACKGROUND: Numerous studies conducted within the USA demonstrate higher levels of benefit finding in ethnic minority individuals compared to nonminority individuals living with chronic disease.

PURPOSE: As benefit finding may be a salient buffer for the effects of stress, the current study examined the association between perceived stress and benefit finding in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)+ men who have sex with men (MSM) living in the southeast USA and investigated whether ethnicity was a moderator of this relationship. We hypothesized that benefit finding would be greater in ethnic minority MSM than in white MSM and that ethnic minority MSM with high levels of stress would experience greater benefit finding than their white MSM counterparts.

METHOD: The current study utilized baseline (T1) and 3-month follow-up (T2) data drawn from a previous trial of a psychosocial intervention in HIV+ MSM. Participants were 130 HIV+ MSM; 52 % were white and 48 % belonged to minority ethnic groups (African-American, Caribbean-American, Hispanic).

RESULTS: Analyses revealed that benefit finding was greater in ethnic minority MSM at baseline; however, this difference became nonsignificant when age, education level, highly active antiretroviral therapy adherence, and CD4 count were added to the model. Moderated regression analyses revealed a significant interaction between T1 perceived stress and ethnicity in predicting T2 benefit finding, such that higher levels of T1 perceived stress predicted lower levels of T2 benefit finding in ethnic minority MSM only. This association was independent of intervention group assignment.

CONCLUSION: The current study's results highlight potential differences in the relationship between stress and benefit finding processes in white and ethnic minority HIV+ MSM.

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