Living with Hepatitis C: Qualitative Interviews with Hepatitis C-infected Veterans

  • Erik J. Groessl
  • Kimberly R. Weingart
  • Robert M. Kaplan
  • Jack A. Clark
  • Allen L. Gifford
  • Samuel B. Ho
Original Article

Abstract

Background

Chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection affects millions of people in the USA and prevalence rates are higher in US veterans. The consequences of HCV infection include reduced quality of life, liver damage, and reduced longevity.

Objective

Our objective was to describe the experiences of US veterans living with chronic HCV infection and use this information in the development of an HCV self-management intervention.

Methods

Twenty-two male HCV-infected veterans completed qualitative interviews. Participants were recruited via flyers and hepatitis C clinic providers at a major VA medical center. Participants were asked about their medical history, being diagnosed with HCV, and general experiences living with HCV.

Results

The study gathered the following findings: the impact of HCV on interpersonal relationships was pronounced, recovery from substance use disorders and getting care for HCV were connected, receiving the HCV diagnosis was more troubling to non-IV drug users, participants had misconceptions about HCV and its treatment, psychological problems were prevalent as were barriers to participating in antiviral treatment and HCV care in general.

Conclusion

The themes derived from our analysis indicate that affected veterans may benefit from interventions or support to improve HCV-related health education, social/relationship issues, psychological issues, and exploration of the connection between substance use recovery and motivation to get care for HCV infection.

KEY WORDS

hepatitis C HCV veterans treatment impact 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Dr. Groessl’s work on this study was funded by a VA HSR&D Merit Review Entry Program Award #03–327 and VA HSRD IIR # IAC 05–067.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.

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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik J. Groessl
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kimberly R. Weingart
    • 1
  • Robert M. Kaplan
    • 3
  • Jack A. Clark
    • 4
    • 5
  • Allen L. Gifford
    • 4
    • 5
  • Samuel B. Ho
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Health Services Research and DevelopmentVA San Diego Healthcare SystemSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.University of California San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.School of Public HealthUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Boston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  5. 5.Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans HospitalBedfordUSA

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