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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

David Scherer

Second Advisor

Richard Halgin

Third Advisor

Aline Sayer

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Public Health


There is considerable research on caregiving for individuals with various chronic illnesses, but there is relatively little research about caring for individuals with HIV/AIDS. Few studies have delved deeply into care recipients' and informal caregivers' subjective experiences of informal caregiving, the quality of the informal caregiving relationship, and their understanding of the impact of the relationship on the mental and physical wellbeing for both parties involved. Therefore, the goal of the project was to gain a better understanding of relationship quality in HIV informal caregiving relationships to determine if there are specific attributes that care recipients and caregivers perceive may contribute to the quality of the relationship and whether, and if so how, it subjectively impacts both parties involved. This project used a qualitative interview methodology (narrative analysis) to explore HIV positive care recipients' and their informal caregivers' subjective experiences. Due to the interdependence that is inherent in dyadic work, the data presented generally described both the receivers' and givers' experience together. Several themes emerged consistently across dyads, including caregiving being embedded into complex family structure and dynamics that accentuate normative feelings people have about their family or pre-existing relationships and caregiving creating learning curves with respect to how each member of each dyad learned about his or her self, as well as his or her partner, in addition to learning about HIV/AIDS, and informal caregiving. Several sub-themes emerged from the findings as well. Policy makers and health providers may benefit from understanding that caregiving is a dynamic activity that is ongoing across the lifespan and, depending on the age and health status of the caregiver, has important implications for the overall well-being of both the care recipient and the care provider.