Receiving a hepatitis C-positive diagnosis

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Abstract Background:

There is a paucity of academic literature that describes patients’ experiences of receiving a hepatitis C-positive diagnosis, doctors’ explanations of the infection and referral to support services. Aim:

The aim of the present study was to report findings on receiving a positive diagnosis from a study of people with hepatitis C infection. Method:

A cross-sectional study of people with hepatitis C infection living in New South Wales, Australia, was carried out (n = 504). Results:

Of participants diagnosed with hepatitis C infection from 1989 to 2001 (n = 417), just under one-third (29.5%, n = 123) reported that they had received ‘no explanation’ about their infection from their doctor at diagnosis. Women and those diagnosed from 1989 to 1996 were significantly more likely to report receiving no explanation than men and those diagnosed later (35.4 vs 23.7% and 37.5 vs 23.0%, respectively). Similarly, current injecting drug users and those diagnosed from 1989 to 1996 were significantly more likely to report receiving no post-test counselling than those who were not currently injecting and those diagnosed later (42.9 vs 30.2% and 37.6 vs 25.9%, respectively). Participants diagnosed from 1997 to 2001 were significantly more likely to report receiving pamphlets about hepatitis C infection (39.2 vs 23.7%), information about treatments (24.5 vs 16.2%) and advice regarding natural therapies (9.1 vs 3.8%) than those diagnosed earlier. Conclusions:

These data provide evidence of an increase in the dissemination of hepatitis C information by doctors at diagnosis during the late 1990s. Continued effort is needed to improve doctors’ provision of information and referral to specialists and support agencies for people newly diagnosed with hepatitis C. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 526−531)

Keywords: chronic illness; diagnosis; hepatitis C; post‐test counselling

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: National Centre in HIV Social Research, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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