Well-being and clinical parameters, social status and innate personality traits
In our first study we wanted to check to what extent the innate personality traits from the Big Five model (the five-factor model of personality (FFM)) as well as variables describing social status were linked to well-being of individuals with HIV.
The Big Five are the following five personality traits:
- neuroticism (vs emotional constancy) – tendency to experience negative emotions (fear, confusion, anger, guilt) and susceptibility to psychological stress,
- extraversion (vs introversion) – refers to the quality and quantity of social interactions and level of activity, energy, as well as ability to experience positive emotions,
- openness to experience – describes the tendency to positively evaluate life experiences, tolerance of novelty and general curiosity about the world,
- agreeableness (vs antagonism) – describes attitude to other people that manifests itself in altruism (positive attitude) or antagonism (negative attitude),
- conscientiousness (vs lack of direction) – reflects the degree to which an individual is organised, persistent and motivated in pursuing a goal.
To verify our hypothesis we identified among 530 subjects six subgroups differentiated by their well-being. People with HIV were classified to individual groups in accordance with the declared assessment of their own well-being – from very low to very high.
The results of the study provided the information that among the variables describing social status being employed and higher education had the strongest positive relation with psychological well-being.
In turn, in the context of personality traits this effect was most visible for neuroticism, which was the highest in the subgroups which assessed their well-being as the worst.
Interestingly, current health condition (e.g. level of CD4 lymphocytes, course of treatment, entering the AIDS phase) did not differentiate well-being of the subjects at all.
Our studies have found out that in the group undergoing antiretroviral therapy it was not the disease itself (HIV infection parameters indicating an objectively worse state of health) but selected sociodemographic characteristics and innate personality traits are of key importance for the well-being of persons with HIV. This is consistent with the results of other studies in this area. Probably, what matters here is the huge progress in treatment of persons with HIV, thanks to which HIV infection itself is no longer definitely fatal but constitutes a chronic medical problem which can be controlled.
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