Lay Management of Chronic Disease: A Qualitative Study of Living with Hepatitis C Infection

OBJECTIVES: To examine management strategies and goals reported by people diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C. METHODS: We analyzed data from semi-structured interviews (N=42) and from electronic sources illness narratives (N=79) and Internet threaded discussions (N=264)]. Line-by-line coding, comparisons, and team discussions generated catalogs of lay management strategies and goals. We analyzed code-based files to identify informants’ selection of specific strategies for each goal. RESULTS: We classified lay management strategies into 3 categories: Medical Self-care, Behavior Change, and Coping. These strategies were used selectively in addressing multiple goals, categorized as Fighting the Virus, Strengthening the Body, and Managing Consequences. CONCLUSIONS: Results underscore the diversity of strategies for living with a disease characterized by uncertain prognosis and variable expression of symptoms.