Street drugs

August 2010

Research

A diagnosis of hepatitis C

Insights from a study on patients’ experiences

Volume 39, No.8, August 2010 Pages 589-592

Carla Treloar

Jamee Newland

Magdalena Harris

Rachel Deacon

Lisa Maher

Background

Previous research has documented patient experiences of hepatitis C virus (HCV) diagnosis to be without sufficient pretest and post-test discussions – health professionals have expressed a need for training in this area.

Objective/s

This study aimed to examine the diagnosis experiences of 24 people diagnosed with HCV in the preceding 2 years.

Methods

Face-to-face interviews of 24 participants (recruited through advertising) were conducted.

Results

Overall, the HCV diagnosis experience of participants was poor. Participant narratives of HCV diagnosis were characterised by confusion in relation to tests that were performed and the implications of test results. Post-test discussions were inadequate – there was a reported lack of information, support and referral provided to participants.

Discussion

Most clinicians do not receive specialised training in hepatitis C but may be involved in diagnoses in their careers. The impact of negative diagnosis experiences for patients can be serious and long term. These findings highlight areas of suboptimal diagnosis experience and suggest training and support needs of health professionals.

Although 10 000 new hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections and 400–500 notifications of new cases are estimated to occur each year in Australia,1 few medical practitioners, especially at the primary care level, have specialised HCV knowledge and skills. Further, there has been little research on the HCV diagnosis experience with a view to examining the support and training needs of diagnosing doctors.2

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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