Overlooked Symptoms in Autoimmune Hepatitis Negatively Impact Many Facets of Life

Dig Dis Sci. 2023 Jan;68(1):77-86. doi: 10.1007/s10620-022-07484-x. Epub 2022 Apr 19.


Background: Significant reduction in quality of life among patients with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) patients has been observed in several studies. While acute symptoms associated with AIH have been well described, little is known about the overall impact of living with AIH on patients' quality of life. The aim of this qualitative descriptive study was to describe the impact of AIH and associated symptoms on quality of life from the perspectives of patients living with AIH.

Methods: Patients from Autoimmune Hepatitis Association support groups were recruited to participate in one of five online focus groups conducted between August and September 2020. After enrollment, patients were asked to complete a brief demographic and disease history questionnaire. A single moderator conducted interviews with each group guided by seven questions focused on the impact of AIH on the participants' quality of life. Each session was recorded, transcribed, and verified. Content analysis was used to summarize the participants' responses.

Results: The participants' discussed three overarching topics: (a) symptoms of AIH and medication side effects, (b) the impact the disease and symptoms/side effects on five domains of quality of life (work life, relationships with friends and family, social life, leisure activities, and diet and exercise) and (c) interactions with healthcare providers and recommendations for future research.

Conclusions: Living with AIH can have profound effects on patients' quality of life in several domains. Healthcare providers and the AIH research community should focus on developing further strategies that can improve the quality of life in persons suffering from AIH.

Keywords: AIH; Autoimmune hepatitis; Depression; Fatigue; Focus group; Qualitative study.

MeSH terms

  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune* / complications
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune* / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life