Alexithymia, Assertiveness and Psychosocial Functioning in HIV: Implications for Medication Adherence and Disease Severity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Psychosocial function and adherence to antiretroviral regimen are key factors in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease management. Alexithymia (AL) is a trait deficit in the ability to identify and describe feelings, emotions and bodily sensations. A structural equation model was used to test whether high levels of AL indirectly relate to greater non-adherent behavior and HIV disease severity via psychosocial dysfunction. Blood draws for HIV-1 viral load and CD4 T-lymphocyte, along with psychosocial surveys were collected from 439 HIV positive adults aged 18–73 years. The structural model supports significant paths from: (1) AL to non-active patient involvement, psychological distress, and lower social support, (2) psychological distress and non-active involvement to non-adherent behavior, and (3) non-adherence to greater HIV disease severity (CFI = .97, RMSEA = .04, SRMR = .05). A second model confirmed the intermediary effect of greater patient assertiveness on the path from AL to social support and non-active patient involvement (CFI = .94, RMSEA = .04, SRMR = .05). Altogether, AL is indirectly linked with HIV disease management through it's association with poor psychosocial function, however greater patient assertiveness buffers the negative impact of AL on relationship quality with healthcare providers and members of one's social support network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-338
Number of pages14
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Adherence
  • Alexithymia
  • Assertiveness
  • Psychosocial function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Alexithymia, Assertiveness and Psychosocial Functioning in HIV: Implications for Medication Adherence and Disease Severity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this