Previous discussions with haemophilia A (HA) carriers suggested that carriers may experience inappropriate care, resulting in poor relationships with healthcare providers (HCPs; principally physicians and nurses), and unfortunate and extreme emotional and behavioural responses. This was a qualitative study to explore medical experiences of HA carriers and their emotional and behavioural responses. Eleven HA carriers and five Haemophilia Treatment Centre nurses were interviewed. Themes were identified using QSR NVivo 8.0. Carriers and nurses reported HA-related bleeding symptoms in carriers, including life-threatening haemorrhage following injury or medical intervention. Menorrhagia was common and distressing. Negative carrier experiences were related in the determination of genotypic and phenotypic status, management, precautions and HCP attitude, including dismissing carriers' symptoms, concerns or requests for care. Carriers responded with mistrust, lost confidence, disappointment, fear, anxiety, doubt of self or child, discussing experiences, avoidance of healthcare and self-treatment. Dismissive HCP attitudes, ignorance about bleeding disorders in women and unique aspects of the carrier population appear to make errors more likely. This study indicates that carriers experience inappropriate care and encounter dismissive attitudes, and respond emotionally and behaviourally. Our model suggests that systematic medical errors aggravate a negative feedback loop leading to negative emotional and behavioural responses and worsening carrier care. Improved carrier care policies and increased awareness of women's bleeding disorders may improve this situation. Further research is needed to determine whether the themes identified in this study accurately reflect the experiences of carriers in general.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.