BACKGROUND AND METHODS: The descriptive, correlational study examined patients' perceptions of pulmonary problems and nursing interventions in a sample (n = 201) of persons living with AIDS hospitalized for Pneumocystis carinii. Additionally, the study assessed differences in physiological variables, patient symptoms, and functional status based on the type of problems identified: dyspnea, pulmonary problems without dyspnea, and nonpulmonary problems. RESULTS: A total of 601 problems was identified including 61 instances of dyspnea and 83 reports of other pulmonary problems. The remainder of the problems was nonpulmonary. Nursing interventions associated with dyspnea and pulmonary problems other than dyspnea were mainly broadly defined interventions such as oxygen and medication administration. When patients were placed into three groups based on identification of dyspnea, pulmonary problems without dyspnea, or only nonpulmonary problems, there were no differences between groups in functional status or patient symptoms of pain, nausea, or fatigue as measured by the Quality Audit Marker. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that hospitalized patients with Pneumocystis carinii present with a broad array of problems. Contrary to expectations, dyspnea was not ubiquitous but was reported by less than one-third of this sample. When dyspnea was present there were few independent nursing interventions that patients identified. Studies are needed to test effective strategies for the nursing management of dyspnea and a large variety of other patient problems associated with HIV infection.

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