The purpose of this pilot project was to evaluate the effectiveness of a psychoeducational grief group intervention for AIDS-related death and bereavement. The study utilized both qualitative methods (i.e., participant observation and quantitative (i.e., a non-equivalent control group) research designs. The sample consisted of family members and friends who have lost a loved one to HIV/AIDS. The primary research question addresses the emotional impact of losing someone to HIV/AIDS as follows: “Does the psychoeducational group intervention reduce levels of anxiety, depression, and unresolved grief among bereaved friends and family members following an AIDS-related death?” A secondary research question is as follows: “What specific issues and concerns are raised by HIV/AIDS caregivers who are grieving the death of a loved one?” Findings indicated that the psychoeducational group intervention reduced the amount of depression, anxiety and unresolved grief experienced by bereaved caregivers. In addition, the qualitative analysis yielded rich data regarding the unique experience of HIV/AIDS caregivers coping with a stigmatized death. Implications for social work practice are explored.

Faculty Research Award, The University of Texas at Austin
AIDS Services of Austin, Austin, TX