AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1885–1898 | Cite as

Relationships Between Illness Perception and Post-traumatic Growth Among Newly Diagnosed HIV-Positive Men Who have Sex with Men in China

  • Joseph T. F. Lau
  • Xiaobing Wu
  • Anise M. S. Wu
  • Zixin Wang
  • Phoenix K. H. Mo
Original Paper


Newly diagnosed HIV-positive men who have sex with men (NHMSM) are at high risk of mental health problems but may also develop post-traumatic growth (PTG). According to the Common Sense Model, illness perception (including both cognitive representation and emotional representation) affects coping and health-related outcomes. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to examine the associations between illness perception and PTG among 225 NHMSM in Chengdu, China. Linear regression analyses indicated that the constructs of emotional representation subscale (β = −0.49) and five cognitive representation subscales (timeline, consequence, identity, attribution to god’s punishment/will, and attribution to chance/luck) (β = −0.13 to −0.37) were negative correlates of PTG, while four other constructs of cognitive representation (coherence, treatment control, personal control, and attribution to carelessness) were positive correlates (β = 0.15 to 0.51). No moderating effects were observed. The associations between five cognitive representation subscales and PTG were fully-mediated via emotional representation. The results indicate that interventions promoting PTG among NHMSM are warranted and should alter illness perception, emotional representation in particular. Future studies should clarify relationships between cognitive representation and emotional representation, and extend similar research to other health-related outcomes and HIV-positive populations.


Post-traumatic growth Illness perception Common Sense Model Men who have sex with men HIV-positive 



This study is supported by internal funding of Centre for Health Behaviours Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Survey and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph T. F. Lau
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaobing Wu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Anise M. S. Wu
    • 4
  • Zixin Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Phoenix K. H. Mo
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Health Behaviours Research, The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Wales HospitalThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Shenzhen Research InstituteThe Chinese University of Hong KongShenzhenChina
  3. 3.Shenzhen Center for Chronic Disease ControlShenzhenChina
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of MacauMacaoChina

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