Counseling of patients with chronic hepatitis C infections is often limited to discussions regarding how the virus is transmitted and what can be done to decrease the risk of transmission to others.
Dr Minuk and colleagues from Canada designed a study in order to document the principal concerns of newly diagnosed and follow-up patients with chronic hepatitis C, and thereby enhance counseling strategies and content.
The researchers involved 70 newly diagnosed and 115 follow-up patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the study.
The participants were asked to identify those concerns that were of utmost importance to them.
The researchers asked participants, firstly in an open-ended manner (volunteered) and then they asked them to prioritize concerns from a prepared list of 7 potential ones (prioritized concerns).
|The most common volunteered concerns of newly diagnosed patients was disease progression (27%)|
|Journal of Viral Hepatitis|
The researchers found that the most common volunteered concerns of newly diagnosed patients were: disease progression (27%) and premature death (19%).
Also important concerns were infecting family members (13%), side-effects of treatment (11%) and miscellaneous others.
The research team recorded patients' prioritized concerns in descending order.
They included: infecting family members, development of liver cancer, infecting others, development of cirrhosis, social stigma of having liver disease, need for liver transplant and loss of employment.
The principal volunteered and prioritized concerns of follow-up patients were similar to those of newly diagnosed patients.
The researchers found that the volunteered and prioritized concerns were relatively consistent across the different genders, age groups, ethnic backgrounds, education level, marital status, employment, modes of viral acquisition and duration of follow-up.
Dr Minuk concluded, "These results indicate that health care providers who focus counseling efforts exclusively on viral transmission are unlikely to address other important concerns of newly diagnosed and follow-up patients with chronic hepatitis C infection."