Helicobacter pylori Management Is Associated with Predominantly Negative Patient Experiences: Results from a Focused Qualitative Analysis

Dig Dis Sci. 2022 Sep;67(9):4387-4394. doi: 10.1007/s10620-021-07320-8. Epub 2022 Jan 16.


Background: Helicobacter pylori eradication is associated with reduced gastric cancer and peptic ulcer disease incidence and mortality. Factors influencing patients' experiences surrounding H. pylori diagnosis and management are not well-described. Current patient perceptions can influence adherence to treatment, and also their anxieties related to this potentially carcinogenic condition. The objective of this study was to understand the patient experience surrounding H. pylori management and to qualitatively construct a contextual framework to inform and guide providers who manage patients with H. pylori infection.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative analysis using a focus group and one-on-one telephone interviews. An iterative inductive/deductive approach was applied to recorded transcripts to identify and hierarchically order themes. Patient experience was defined according to major themes within a structured health behavior framework.

Results: Theme saturation was achieved with thirteen participants (mean age 50.4 years; 62% female; 38% non-Hispanic white). Qualitative analysis yielded a total of 987 codes that resulted in five major themes related to the patient H. pylori experience: context of decision-making; health beliefs; barriers experienced; cues to action; and impact of new knowledge. These themes aligned with the Health Behavior Model framework. Participants were motivated to treat H. pylori. However, the experience was more often perceived negatively versus positively. The perceived patient-provider interaction contributed most prominently to the negative experience compared to other patient experiences, including treatment-related side effects. Internal cues, including symptoms and fear of cancer, modified participants' perceptions and motivation to accept treatment.

Conclusions: Patient experiences related to H. pylori management are predominantly negative. Increasing providers' awareness about patients' values, beliefs, anxieties, and expectations surrounding H. pylori diagnosis/treatment may improve provider-patient communication and, ideally, related outcomes.

Keywords: Antibiotic; Compliance (Mesh Terms: Adult and Treatment); Gastric cancer; Helicobacter pylori; Patient experience; Peptic ulcer; Qualitative; Quality improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections* / complications
  • Helicobacter Infections* / diagnosis
  • Helicobacter Infections* / drug therapy
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / complications


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents