Vol 82, No 9 (2011)

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Management of the stressful stigma attached to sexually transmitted disease (preliminary report)

Teresa Rzepa, Ryszard Żaba, Wojciech Silny
Ginekol Pol 2011;82(9).


Abstract Background: Syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases may cause some psychological problems and anxiety among the infected patients. Objectives: The aim of the study was to examine the differences in stress level and stress coping strategies of patients infected with syphilis and healthy controls. Also, the authors aimed at establishing types of strategies to cope with the stigma of sexually transmitted diseases. Material and Methods: The study was a survey of 21 syphilis infected subjects and 21 healthy subjects, paired according to age and gender. The respondents used the SRRS questionnaire with some additional questions and the Mental Adjustment to Disease Mini-MAC Scale in Polish adapted version. The latter was given to the syphilisinfected subjects only. Results: The syphilis infected subjects experienced more acute stress than the healthy subjects. Most healthy subjects used the active task strategy to cope with stress while the infected subjects (particularly females) chose the escape strategy and the ‘waiting out’ strategy. The infected males preferred an active style of coping with the stigma; among the females, the anxiety style was dominant. Conclusions: Syphilis is a source of permanent stress and awareness of the possible social consequences is a strong stimulus, prompting the stigma bearer to keep its existence a secret.

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