Hepatitis C in a new therapeutic era: Recontextualising the lived experience

David Whiteley, Anne Whittaker, Lawrie Elliott, Sarah Cunningham-Burley

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Abstract / Description of output

Aims and Objectives: To explore the experience of adults living with hepatitis C in a new era of interferon-free treatment.
Background: 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 C may have influenced the experience of those living with the virus, and their understanding of the disease.
Design: A qualitative study underpinned by social phenomenological theory.
Methods: Data were generated through semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 20 hepatitis C positive adults living in a large city in Scotland.
Results: Thematic analysis identified three over-riding 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.
Conclusions: Inter-thematic 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Early online date27 Sept 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sept 2017


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