Dean Serovich awarded $3.3 million grant

Tampa, FL (July 17, 2013) – Julie Serovich, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, has received a $3.3 million dollar grant to study the decision to disclose one’s HIV status to family members with co-investigators Sandra Reed, Ph.D., of the Department of Child and Family Studies and Celia Lescano, Ph.D., of the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy . The decision to disclose one’s HIV status has been known to create considerable emotional stress, though disclosure to family members has been linked to increased social support, improved health outcomes, reduced loneliness and stress, and improved HIV management.

“Most research thus far has focused on the disclosure event,” says Dean Serovich. “There hasn’t been much attention paid to the decision-making process behind disclosing.  Deciding to tell or not to tell is important.”

The aim of Dean Serovich’s study is to refine and evaluate intervention methods designed to enhance the HIV disclosure decision-making process, as well as increase the comfort and acceptance of the decision among those living with HIV. The study is based on the Consequences Theory of Disclosure, which suggests that positive persons weigh the rewards and costs of disclosing their HIV status to their families, and make the choice to disclose when the benefits outweigh the costs.

The study specifically aims to assess the effectiveness of intervention techniques; examine its effects over time; explore the mediating effects of disclosure decision making on outcomes such as self-efficacy, preparation, and conflict; explore moderating effects of participant demographics; and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment engagement, retention, and expectations on outcomes.

“At this point there is no evidence-based practice that has been developed to help persons living with HIV make the decision to disclose their status to their family,” says Dean Serovich. “Additional support in the decision-making process may improve  disclosure outcomes, and ultimately impact the health and quality of life of those living with HIV and their families.”