Illness representation and smoking behavior: A focus group study of HIV-positive men

Nancy R. Reynolds, Judith L. Neidig, Mary Ellen Wewers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Focus group interviews were conducted with 13 men living with HIV (mean age = 44.7) to explore their beliefs about cigarette smoking and HIV. Interview data were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and systematically analyzed using inductive techniques. Participants believed cigarette smoking provides a number of benefits to persons living with HIV. Although participants acknowledged that smoking has disadvantages, smokers generally discounted health risks, noting how it improves their sense of well-being and reasoning that they would not live long enough to suffer its consequences. Although smoking is a risk factor for HIV-related morbidity and mortality, rates of smoking are high among men living with HIV. Research completed with other population groups finds beliefs are significant in explaining variance in smoking behavior change. Smoking-cessation programs targeting HIV-positive men may be more successful if illness-specific belief systems are taken into account. Additional study is warranted to substantiate the effectiveness of this approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV
  • Illness representation
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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