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Exploring the emotions of patients undergoing therapy for hepatitis C

11 July 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 13



direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy is highly efficacious in the treatment of hepatitis C (HCV). The literature to date has focused primarily on the physical health benefits of viral eradication.


this study explored patient emotions during and after DAA therapy for HCV.


over a 6-month period, 178 patients attending a viral hepatitis clinic for treatment of HCV were posed a single question: ‘How do you feel about your diagnosis of hepatitis C today?’ Responses were transcribed verbatim, thematically coded and visualised using WordArt software.


the images depict the evolution of patients' perceptions of HCV before, during and after DAA therapy. Responses before treatment were predominantly negative, often describing the fear of contagion and feelings of isolation, secrecy and loneliness. After treatment, patients often described feeling positive and more motivated.


the results demonstrate that treatment of HCV has a transformative effect on patients' perception of the impact of HCV on their wellbeing. This may promote a more positive outlook and, in turn, facilitate patient engagement with healthcare.

Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy has revolutionised the treatment of hepatitis C (HCV). Current treatment regimens are highly efficacious, with almost all patients receiving DAA therapy achieving a sustained virologic response (SVR) or ‘cure’. The literature to date has focused primarily on the physical health benefits of viral eradication and lacks qualitative assessments of the impact of HCV on patients' mental wellbeing or emotional states. Recent studies have demonstrated significant improvements in patient-reported outcomes (PROs) following the achievement of SVR.

Many papers have qualitatively explored the impact of receiving an HCV diagnosis during the era of interferon therapy (Tompkins et al, 2005; Treloar and Rhodes, 2009). At that time, understanding a patient's emotional state and mental health was crucial to assess their suitability to receive treatment, as interferon could trigger the onset of depression (Cooper et al, 2018).

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