Resilience Among Women with HIV: Impact of Silencing the Self and Socioeconomic Factors

Sannisha K. Dale, Mardge H. Cohen, Gwendolyn A. Kelso, Ruth C. Cruise, Kathleen M. Weber, Cheryl Watson, Jane K. Burke-Miller, Leslie R. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


In the U.S., women account for over a quarter of the approximately 50,000 annual new HIV diagnoses and face intersecting and ubiquitous adversities including gender inequities, sexism, poverty, violence, and limited access to quality education and employment. Women are also subjected to prescribed gender roles such as silencing their needs in interpersonal relationships, which may lessen their ability to be resilient and function adaptively following adversity. Previous studies have often highlighted the struggles encountered by women with HIV without focusing on their strengths. The present cross-sectional study investigated the relationships of silencing the self and socioeconomic factors (education, employment, and income) with resilience in a sample of women with HIV. The sample consisted of 85 women with HIV, diverse ethnic/racial groups, aged 24-65 enrolled at the Chicago site of the Women's Interagency HIV Study in the midwestern region of the United States. Measures included the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale -10 item and the Silencing the Self Scale (STSS). Participants showed high levels of resilience. Women with lower scores on the STSS (lower self-silencing) reported significantly higher resilience compared to women with higher STSS scores. Although employment significantly related to higher resilience, silencing the self tended to predict resilience over and above the contributions of employment, income, and education. Results suggest that intervention and prevention efforts aimed at decreasing silencing the self and increasing employment opportunities may improve resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-231
Number of pages11
JournalSex Roles
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV
  • Resilience
  • Silencing the self
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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