Attitudes of United States physician assistants toward persons with HIV/AIDS

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Talley, Anja K.
Webster, Kyrie G.
Muma, Richard D.

Talley, Anja K., Webster, Kyrie G. and Richard D. Muma(2009). Attitudes of United States Physician Assistants towards Persons with HIV/AIDS. In Proceedings: 5th Annual Symposium: Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University, p. 168-169


Several studies have shown that a large number of healthcare workers have negative attitudes toward persons infected with HIV early in the epidemic, but a more positive shift has occurred in these attitudes over the last decade. These studies focused mostly on the perceptions of physicians, surgeons, and nurses. However, recent surveys about attitudes of mid-level providers, such as Physician Assistants (PAs), a large purveyor of health care services, are missing. Methodology: This crosssectional survey was completed to determine the current attitudes of practicing PAs concerning individuals with HIV/AIDS. A nationwide randomized sample of 1,500 PAs was surveyed through the United States (U.S.) mail. The AIDS Attitudes Scale (AAS) developed by Froman, Owen and Daisy in 1992 was used as a self-reported measure of attitude toward persons with AIDS. The AAS is viewed as a reliable and valid Likert-based instrument that measures HIV/AIDS empathy and avoidance among healthcare workers. In the scale, avoidance is described as fear of contracting the disease, and empathy is described as supportive attitudes towards persons living with HIV/AIDS. The results were analyzed using descriptive, t-test, and ANOVA statistics. Results: The response rate was 16% (n=246). A majority had high empathy, low avoidance, and positive general attitude scores. Respondents living in the South had the highest avoidance and lowest general attitude scores compared with those living in other regions (ANOVA, p < .05). Conclusion: The results were consistent with similar current studies of healthcare workers, which demonstrated supportive attitudes towards persons with HIV/AIDS.

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Third Place winner of poster presentations at the 5th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex, Wichita State University, May 1, 2009.
Research completed at the Department of Physician Assistant, College of Health Professions