SECope: Coping with HIV Treatment Side Effects

Author of Tool: 

Centre for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS)

Key references: 

Johnson MO, Neilands TB. Coping with HIV Treatment Side Effects: Conceptualization, Measurement, and Linkages. AIDS and Behavior. 2007 Jul;11(4):575–85.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The 20-item measure assesses strategies for coping with HIV treatment side effects, and includes scales of Positive Emotion Focused Coping, Social Support Seeking, Nonadherence, Information Seeking, and Taking Side Effect Medications.


Side effects from HIV treatments impact quality of life (QOL) and adherence to care, and influence decisions about health care. The SECope: Coping with HIV Treatment Side Effects Scale deals with the issue of the lack of data on how people deal with and manage the adverse effects of medication.    For example, how one copes with the undesirable effects of ART may be similar to how one deals with the symptoms of a chronic disease. There are fundamental differences, however, between coping with an ongoing disease and side effects from a treatment regimen. The individual taking medications, which cause serious side effects, may elect to stop or reduce the medications, thereby relieving the side effects. This is not the case with the symptoms of a disease; there is often no clear way to avoid disease-related symptoms. Thus, side effects management presents a coping challenge that is distinct from coping with symptoms of a disease.   TheSc


The factor structure was supported by exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses with two samples of HIV+ individuals on treatment (Ns = 173 and 233). The SECope has demonstrated reliability (internal consistency and test-retest), and its validity is supported through construct and criterion-referenced analyses. Nonadherence as a strategy for coping with side effects was associated with poorer provider relations, lower treatment knowledge, and higher beliefs of treatment effectiveness.  


Digital Object Identifier (DOI):