Objective: To conduct a qualitative study to elicit patients' descriptions of their own experiences with treatment for hepatitis C (HCV).
Methods: Focus groups were conducted until thematic saturation was reached.
Results: A total of 40 patients (80% male) participated in eight focus groups. The themes that emerged most frequently during the focus groups centered on adverse effects and quality of care. The discussions highlighted discrepancies between patients' anticipated effects of drug toxicity versus their actual experiences, gaps in communication between physicians, and the lack of social support as important shortcomings in the healthcare of HCV patients.
Conclusions: The issues raised by the participants in this study highlight several important areas that may lead to improved care for patients with HCV.
Practice implications: This study suggests that care for patients with HCV might be improved by using patient testimonials to improve accuracy of expectations, having both the primary care physician and liver specialist devise a plan to treat symptoms arising during the course of therapy, and ensuring that patients have the option of participating in a support group.