n Ondersoek na die belewinge van informele versorgers van MIV/VIGS pasiënt : 'n salutogene perspektief
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The aim of this research was to determine the way in which informal caregivers of HIV/AIDS patients experience their task as caregivers as well as to identify factors, or general resistance resources, which exercise an influence on their psychological well-being, and more specifically on their sense of coherence. The stressors encountered by informal caregivers of HIVIAIDS patients have previously been investigated thoroughly in a number of studies. The tasks of informal caregivers very often encompass much more than what would be, for example, included in the nursing context and therefore exceed the limits applying to the formal sector. Stressors to which caregivers are exposed include physical, financial and emotional aspects. It has been proved that this state of affairs has a negative impact on their physical health conditions as well as their psychological well-being. Caregivers do, however, at times report a certain extent of growth experienced by them which can be related to the care giving situation. The salutogenic perspective allows for a study of the origin of health and has, for the purposes of this study, been applied to obtain an alternative description of the caregivers' experiences. According to this perspective health does not merely mean the absence of disease, but also refers to health being influenced by an individual's management of stressful events. When an individual, even if confronted with stressful circumstances, has adequate general resistance resources at his/her disposal, a strong sense of coherence can develop and this will have a positive influence on his/her psychological well-being. In the South African context little if any literature can be found on the salutogenic factors that may affect informal caregivers of HIV/AIDS patients. The investigation of this study was based on an availability sample consisting of 8 informal caregivers of HIVIAIDS patients. A one shot cross sectional design with triangulation of data assessment techniques was used. The researcher obtained data with regard to the caregivers' sense of coherence by means of the Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC) (Antonovsky, 1987). Semistructured interviews were conducted with all the caregivers involved and a qualitative analysis followed. The results revealed that informal caregivers' sense of coherence was much lower than- that of a group of nurses (formal caregivers) as described by Cilliers (2003). One of the reasons for this significant difference could be the lack of a structured setting or environment in which caregivers still have to perform their duties and responsibilities. According to the results a variety of factors exercising a negative impact on informal caregivers' sense of coherence could be identified. These included (a) stress, (b) exposure to unfamiliar situations, and (c) a lack of counselling skills. Within the framework of the salutogenic perspective there were, however, different factors also known as general resistance resources, that exercised a positive impact on the caregivers' sense of coherence. Among these the following could be counted: (a) spirituality, (b) insight into interpersonal situations, (c) utilisation of social support systems, and (d) multi-disciplinary cooperation. It would therefore seem that informal caregivers do possess general resistance resources which enable them to persevere with their tasks as caregivers in spite of the stressors they encounter on a daily basis. One of the recommendations that can be posed after having carried out this study and after having analysed the results, is the compilation as well as the evaluation and implementation, of a psycho-education training programme for informal caregivers, with special emphasis on such general resistance resources.
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