Psychological distress, life stressors, and social support in new immigrants with HIV

Miri Cohen, Sandra Arad, Margalit Lorber, Shimon Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The expression of psychological distress is culture-dependent. Ethiopian Jewish immigrants' expression of distress is anchored in their unique culture. The authors' aim in this study was to assess the psychological distress of HIV-positive (HIV+) Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in Israel, using a culture-based tool, and to examine the relations of psychological distress, psychosocial variables, and T lymphocyte subset counts and viral load. Participants were 56 HIV+ patients. The authors assessed psychological distress by the self-report questionnaire, which they adjusted for the Ethiopian immigrants (SRQ-E). The authors also assessed adherence to treatment regimen, number of life stressors, and degree of perceived social support, T lymphocyte subset counts, and viral load in plasma. The overall level of psychological distress was in the high range of the SRQ-E scale and was considerably higher in men than in women. Psychological distress was related to more life stressors and lower perceived social support. Women reported having more social support, had better T(CD4+) lymphocyte count and T(CD4+)/T(CD8+) ratio, and lower viral load than did men. Better HIV indicators were related to shorter duration of HIV+ since diagnosis, better adherence, and more social support, but not to psychological distress. The culture-based tool allowed identification of the high degree of psychological distress among the HIV+ Ethiopian immigrants. Researchers need to assess the adaptability of culture-based questionnaires to determine psychological distress in HIV+ patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-54
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Adherence
  • Ethiopian Jews
  • Ethnicity
  • HIV
  • Immigrants
  • Life stressors
  • Psychological distress
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology


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