Assessing the buddy role in an HIV -positive support group
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Research has established a link between social support and an improvement in well-being, medication compliance and overall psychological health. In the current research the buddy role in a social support intervention was examined to determine its influence on health outcomes, psychological well-being among an HIV-positive population. This qualitative study sought to gather a better understanding regarding the experience of the buddies enrolled in Project HARRT. Buddies were HIV-positive individuals selected and trained to provide affirmational, emotional, informational and spiritual support to other HIV-positive individuals who were having difficulty adhering to their HIV medication regimen. Participants were recruited from AIDS Consultation Services, or A.C.S., a large inner-city outpatient hospital clinic serving mainly indigent and undereducated African-American and Hispanic individuals. In addition to providing support, buddies took part in bi-weekly support groups and bi-weekly supervision meetings. Nine buddies were interviewed and data was collected concerning their experience as a buddy. As a result of the buddies' common dialogue it was revealed that social support, active coping, personal growth and resilience and resistance were characteristics described by individuals in the buddy role. These findings supported the use of the buddy role or active participation by HIV-positive individuals in social support interventions. This role provided an opportunity to improve psychological well-being by fostering the characteristics described by the buddies in Project HARRT.