Abstract

Objective: Engagement in proactive coping behaviors rather than avoidant-type coping is generally associated with better patient outcomes. In adults with HIV, such proactive coping behaviors are important to traverse many of the obstacles of being diagnosed with this disease. Unfortunately, the fronto-striato-thalamo circuitry, associated with executive functioning and cognitive regulation, can be compromised in adults with HIV and may adversely affect proactive coping. Method: In this cross-sectional study, 98 adults with and 103 adults without HIV were administered the Proactive Coping Scale along with the Lubben Social Network Scale, the Profile of Mood States, the Ironson-Woods Spirituality/Religiosity Index and several measures of psychomotor (Finger Tapping Test, Digit Copy), speed of processing (Useful Field of View), and executive functioning (CLOX, Digit Substitution, etc). Results: Utilizing a series of step-wise regressions, in those without HIV, higher scores of religiosity/spirituality (p = .001) and better speed of processing (p = .018) predicted better proactive coping (R2 = .148). Only religiosity/spirituality (p = .000) predicted better proactive coping in adults with HIV (R2 = .27). Post-hoc group comparisons revealed that HIV-positive adults performed significantly worse and had more dispersion (variance) on many of the cognitive measures, including speed of processing (F = 22.80, p = .000). Conclusion(s): As shown in the ACTIVE Study, a large multicenter study of older adults, since speed of processing ability can be improved through training and has been shown to protect one from depressive symptomatology and improve locus of control, this approach may be explored in therapies to improve coping in other clinical populations.