Do message features influence reactions to HIV disclosures? A multiple-goals perspective

John P. Caughlin, Jennifer J. Bute, Erin Donovan-Kicken, Kami A. Kosenko, Mary E. Ramey, Dale E. Brashers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People who are HIV-positive must make decisions about disclosing their status to others but do so in the context of stigma and social isolation reported by many with the disease. Disclosing an HIV-positive diagnosis is necessary to seek social support, to manage health care, and to negotiate sexual encounters, but fear of how others will respond is a strong barrier to revealing that information. This investigation focuses on various ways that HIV can be disclosed. Using a multiple-goals perspective, 24 disclosure messages (representing 6 different types) were created. Participants (N = 548) were asked to imagine one of their siblings revealing an HIV-positive diagnosis, using 1 of the 24 messages. Participants' reactions to the disclosures differed substantially across the various message types. The discussion focuses on theoretical explanations for the variations in responses and the utility of these findings for practical interventions concerning HIV disclosures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-283
Number of pages14
JournalHealth communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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