Qualitative Insights into the Lived Experience of Interferon-Free Treatments


Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2016

QUALITATIVE INSIGHTS INTO THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF INTERFERON-FREE TREATMENTS WHITELEY D. 1, 2, 3, WHITTAKER A.2, 3, ELLIOTT L.4 & CUNNINGHAM-BURLEY S.5 1Regional Infectious Diseases Unit, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, United Kingdom 2School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, Edinburgh Napier University, Sighthill Campus, Edinburgh EH11 4BN, United Kingdom 3Substance Misuse Directorate, Woodlands House, Astley Ainsley Hospital, Grange Loan, Edinburgh EH9 2TB, United Kingdom 4Department of Nursing and Community Health, School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow G4 0BA, United Kingdom 5School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, United Kingdom Background: Previous research has focused on the experience of individuals undergoing interferon (IFN) based treatment for hepatitis C (HCV), however qualitative insights into the experience of IFN-free therapy are currently absent from the scientific literature. Methods: As part of a larger study, a purposive sample of eight individuals participated in face-to-face semi-structured interviews before and after the completion of various IFN-free HCV treatment regimens between June 2015 and March 2016. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and explored using thematic analysis. Results: Early analysis of the data produced three main themes encompassing the experience of undertaking a course of IFN-free HCV treatment; expectations and realisations, an honour and a pleasure, and treatment needs. Expectations and realisations describes the influence that IFN continued to cast over IFN-free treatment, contrasting the practicalities of taking IFN-free therapy and side-effects experienced with preconceived notions. An honour and a pleasure explores the way participants described a positive and optimistic experience of an undemanding therapy, yet also situated IFN-free treatment as a privilege, associated with feelings of luck and guilt. The final theme, treatment needs, identifies how reassurance and support remain integral to the experience of treatment, illustrating the strategies participants used to search for treatment efficacy, and the value placed on contact with healthcare professionals and other sources of support by those with a significant history of drug use. Conclusion: As advances in HCV treatment continue apace, a discourse has emerged around alternate ways for ‘easier’ therapies to be delivered to patients. The results from this study suggest that despite individuals perceiving IFN-free treatments as more straightforward, the concentration and intensity of care given during HCV therapy should not necessarily be scaled back. This has implications for the way services meet the needs of, and offer therapy to, HCV positive substance users in primary care. Disclosure of Interest Statement: This work was conducted as part of a post-graduate research degree, funded by the Clinical Academic Research Career (CARC) Scheme, a collaboration between NHS Lothian, Edinburgh Napier University, Queen Margaret University, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Education Scotland.

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