‘Sussing that doctor out’: Experiences of people affected by hepatitis C regarding private GPs in SA

‘Sussing that doctor out.’ Experiences and perspectives of people affected by hepatitis C regarding engagement with private general practitioners in South Australia: a qualitative study

BMC Fam Pract. 2017 Nov 29;18(1):97. doi: 10.1186/s12875-017-0669-2.

Abstract

Background: Australians with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) can access affordable Direct Acting Antiviral (DAA) treatments with high cure rates (>90%), via General Practitioners (GPs). Benefits from this treatment will be maximised if people with HCV readily disclose and engage with private GPs regarding HCV-related issues. Investigating the perceptions and experiences of people affected by HCV with GPs can allow for this pathway to care for HCV to be improved.

Methods: In 2013–2014, 22 purposively sampled participants from South Australia (SA) were interviewed. They a) had contracted or were at risk of hepatitis C (n = 10), b) were key workers who had clients affected by HCV (n = 6), and c) met both a) and b) criteria (n = 6). The semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.

Results: People affected by HCV viewed GPs as a source of general healthcare but, due to negative experiences and perceptions, many developed a strategy of “sussing” out doctors before engaging with and disclosing to a GP regarding HCV-related issues. Participants were doubtful about the benefits of engagement and disclosure, and did not assume that they would be provided best-practice care in a non-discriminatory, non-judgemental way. They perceived risks to confidentiality and risks of changes to the care they received from GPs upon disclosure.

Conclusion: GPs may need to act in ways that counteract the perceived risks and persuade people affected by HCV of the benefits of seeking HCV-related care.

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