In this study, investigators from the United States assessed the interaction between physicians and patients diagnosed with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
The study included 322 outpatients with chronic HCV infection and treated at a tertiary referral hospital's hepatology clinic.
The team asked patients to provide demographic information and to complete an interview, the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP) and the Hospital Anxiety Depression (HAD) scale.
|41% of patients reported communication difficulties.|
The investigators found that 41% of patients reported communication difficulties with physicians involved in their care.
They found that the main difficulties were poor communication skills of physicians (28%), physician incompetence (23%), feelings of being misdiagnosed, misled, or abandoned (16%), or being stigmatized by their physician (9%).
In addition, the team determined that patients were twice as likely to report difficulties with subspecialists, compared with generalists.
The investigators established that nonresponse to antiviral therapy correlated with perceived physician conflict.
Using multivariate analysis, they found that patients' psychosocial problems were the best predictors of communication difficulties.
Dr Susan Zickmund's team concluded, "A substantial number of patients with HCV infection report difficulties when interacting with physicians, which may be due to coexisting emotional or social problems".
"However, perceived stigmatization by physicians and a sense of abandonment reflect the need for further educational efforts".
"These should target both specialists and primary care providers to inform them about the psychosocial challenges facing these patients".