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Stigma, psychological reactance, women, HIV


Psychological reactance is defined as the drive to re-establish autonomy after it has been threatened or constrained. People living with HIV may have high levels of psychological reactance due to the restrictions that they may perceive as a result of living with HIV. People living with HIV may also exhibit levels of HIV-related stigma. The relationship between psychological reactance and HIV-related stigma is complex yet understudied. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to examine the association between psychological reactance and HIV-related stigma among women living with HIV. Data were obtained from one time-point (a cross-sectional assessment) of a longitudinal HIV disclosure study. Psychological reactance was measured using the 18-item Questionnaire for the Measurement of Psychological Reactance. HIV-related stigma was measured using the HIV Stigma Scale, which has four domains: personalized, disclosure concerns, negative self-image, and concerns with public attitudes. Principal component analysis was used to derive components of psychological reactance. Linear regression models were used to determine the association between overall psychological reactance and its components, and stigma and its four domains, and depressive and anxiety symptoms. The associations between stigma and mental health were also examined. Three components of psychological reactance were derived: Opposition, Irritability, and Independence. Overall psychological reactance and irritability were associated with all forms of stigma. Opposition was linked to overall and negative self-image stigma. Overall psychological reactance, opposition, and irritability were positively associated with anxiety symptoms while opposition was also associated with Centers for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression depressive symptoms. There were also positive associations between all forms of stigma, and depressive and anxiety symptoms. Health-care providers and counselors for women living with HIV addressing feelings of irritability and opposition toward others may reduce HIV-related stigma. Future research should examine the link between psychological reactance, mental health, and HIV-related stigma among other populations living with HIV.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

AIDS Care, v. 28, issue 6, p. 745-749

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in AIDS Care on 17 Feb 2016, available online:

caic_a_1147015_sm8386.doc (55 kB)
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