Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Michael H. Antoni

Second Committee Member

Gail Ironson

Third Committee Member

Mary Ann Fletcher


HIV+ men who have sex with men (MSM) in ethnic minority groups have significantly poorer psychosocial and health-related outcomes as compared with HIV+ individuals in majority groups (e.g. white, heterosexual). The current study seeks to examine a positive psychological pattern found in previous studies comparing ethnic minority and white patients with chronic disease; specifically, that ethnic minorities tend to exhibit higher levels of benefit finding in response to chronic disease. Understanding the factors that may uniquely contribute to benefit finding in minority HIV+ MSM may aid in the development of interventions designed to improve psychosocial and health-related outcomes for this group in particular. Based on the findings of previous work, it was hypothesized that benefit finding would be significantly greater in minority MSM than in white MSM. It was also hypothesized that both the relationship between perceived stress and benefit finding and the relationship between social support and benefit finding would differ as a function of ethnicity. Finally, it was hypothesized that religious coping would mediate the relationship between ethnicity and benefit finding. The current study utilized baseline and 3-month follow-up (T2) data drawn from a previous trial of Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) intervention in HIV+ MSM. Participants were 94 HIV+ MSM; 56% were white and 44% belonged to minority ethnic groups (African-American, AfroCarribean-American, Hispanic). Analyses revealed that benefit finding was greater in minority MSM at baseline; however, this difference became non-significant when age, education level, and HAART adherence were added to the model. Ethnicity was not a significant predictor of T2 benefit finding. There were no significant interactions found between social support and ethnicity in predicting either T1 or T2 benefit finding. Moderated regression analyses revealed a significant interaction between T1 perceived stress and ethnicity in predicting T2 benefit finding, such that higher levels of T1 perceived stress predicted lower levels of T2 benefit finding in minority MSM only. Mediated regression and bootstrapping analyses revealed religious coping to be a provisional intermediary variable in the relationship between ethnicity and T1 benefit finding in a model which was not adjusted for covariates. The current study’s results highlight potential differences in the association between stress and benefit finding processes between white and minority MSM.


HIV; MSM; Benefit Finding; Ethnic Minority; Chronic Disease