Regional Infectious Diseases Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.
School of Health and Social Care, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK.
Substance Misuse Directorate, NHS Lothian, Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.
Department of Nursing and Community Health, School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK.
School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
To explore the experience of adults living with hepatitis C in a new era of interferon-free treatment.
Hepatitis C is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, posing a significant challenge to global public health. Historically, the treatment of hepatitis C was poorly efficacious and highly demanding; however, more effective and tolerable therapies have become available in high-income nations in recent years. This is the first study to explore how these significant developments in the treatment of hepatitis Cmay have influenced the experience of those living with the virus, and their understanding of the disease.
A qualitative study underpinned by social phenomenological theory.
Data were generated through semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 20 hepatitis Cpositive adults living in a large city in Scotland.
Thematic analysis identified three overriding themes. "Positioning hepatitis C" illustrated how the disease was understood within wider sociocultural, medical and politico-economic contexts. "Beyond a physical burden" emphasised the emotional aspect of infection, and "a new uncertainty" revealed participants' cautious response to the advances in hepatitis C therapy.
Interthematic discourse portrayed the new era of hepatitis C treatment as holding little sway over constructions of the illness, as narratives resonated with previous studies. Such unmoving "lay" understandings of hepatitis C may pose potential barriers to the new therapeutic era from reaching its full potential.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE:
How people living with the virus perceive and understand hepatitis C can have an adverse impact on their engagement with care and treatment. Whilst global medical discourse eulogises the arrival of a new era of therapy, there remain significant challenges for nurses engaging those with hepatitis C in therapeutic pathways.