Australian women`s experiences of living with hepatitis C virus: results from a cross-sectional survey

Gifford, Sandra M., O`Brien, Mary L., Bammer, Gabriele, Banwell, Cathy and Stoove, Mark 2003, Australian women`s experiences of living with hepatitis C virus: results from a cross-sectional survey, Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, vol. 18, no. 7, pp. 841-850, doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1746.2003.03077.x.

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Title Australian women`s experiences of living with hepatitis C virus: results from a cross-sectional survey
Author(s) Gifford, Sandra M.
O`Brien, Mary L.
Bammer, Gabriele
Banwell, Cathy
Stoove, Mark
Journal name Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology
Volume number 18
Issue number 7
Start page 841
End page 850
Publisher Blackwell Scientific Publications
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2003-07
ISSN 0815-9319
Keyword(s) health care
health related quality of life
hepatitis C virus
injecting drug use
women's health
Summary Background: Of the estimated 160 000 Australians currently infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), over one-third are women and very few have received clinical treatment, with most managing their illness in non-specialist settings. Little is known about the experiences of women living with HCV in the general community. The present study provides the results from the first comprehensive social survey of Australian women's experiences of living with HCV.

Methods: In 2000, a questionnaire was administered to a largely non-clinical sample of women with HCV (n = 462) living in the state of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, Australia. The questionnaire was self-administered with a return rate of 75%. The mean age was 35 years and 83% were 'current' or 'past' injecting drug users. The mean time since diagnosis was 4.6 years (SD = 4.0) and the mean time since infection was 10.5 years (SD = 8.2).

Results: Fifty-eight percent of women reported experiencing symptoms related to their HCV, the most common being tiredness (78%) and nausea (44%). Of the sample, 56% currently saw a doctor for their HCV, and while 52% had ever been referred to a specialist, only 17% of the total sample had ever begun interferon-based combination or monotherapy. Forty-eight percent of women reported experiencing less favorable treatment by a health professional because of their HCV. Age-related self-assessed health status was significantly lower than Australian norms, as were SF-12 physical and mental health scores. The SF-12 physical and mental health scores were highly correlated, indicating a significant physical and mental health burden associated with HCV.

Conclusion: The social, physical and mental health needs of women living with HCV are considerable. Most women had not accessed specialist treatment and the response of the primary health care system to HCV-related women's health issues requires improvement.
Notes Published Online: 10 Jun 2003
Language eng
DOI 10.1046/j.1440-1746.2003.03077.x
Field of Research 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2003, Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Health and Social Development
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