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Meaning of Adherence in Hepatitis C-Infected Military Veterans

Phillips, Frances H., PhD, APRN, ACNS-BC; Barnes, Donelle M., PhD, RN, CNE

doi: 10.1097/SGA.0000000000000199
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Among United States (U.S.) veterans, the prevalence of chronic hepatitis C infection is three times that of the general U.S. population. Treatment success is proportionate to the degree of treatment adherence. There has been little research dedicated to the systematic exploration of issues related to treatment adherence. The purpose of this study was to describe factors that influenced adherence in infected military veterans. Phenomenological research emphasizes a rich description. A convenience sample of 21 veterans was recruited from a clinic in north Texas. One-time in-depth interviews explored reasons for remaining in treatment despite difficult side effects. Analysis included immersion, data transformation, thematic analysis, and summary. Cognitive strategies to stay on medication include making a commitment to treatment, “not ready to leave this world,” conserving energy and staying busy, looking forward, and starting over. Veterans utilize previously learned military discipline to stay on medications and follow providers' orders. They are not ready to die and have plans for life after treatment. Patient education should focus on side effect management, rather than on genotypes or viral load. Treatment teams should include substance abuse specialists and gastroenterology providers. Future studies need to develop a measurement tool for adherence during antiviral treatment.

Frances H. Phillips, PhD, APRN, ACNS-BC, is Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas.

Donelle M. Barnes, PhD, RN, CNE, is Associate Professor, College of Nursing, The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas.

Correspondence to: Frances H. Phillips, PhD, APRN, ACNS-BC, College of Nursing, The University of Texas at Arlington, Box 19407, Arlington, TX 76019 (fphillips@uta.edu).

Dr Phillips received funding for the study from the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Received April 14, 2014

Accepted May 28, 2014

© 2016 by the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc.