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Patient perspectives on the impact of acromegaly: results from individual and group interviews

Authors Gurel MH, Bruening PR, Rhodes C, Lomax K

Received 29 October 2013

Accepted for publication 26 November 2013

Published 9 January 2014 Volume 2014:8 Pages 53—62

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S56740

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Michelle H Gurel,1 Paul R Bruening,2 Christine Rhodes,2 Kathleen G Lomax3

1Neuroendocrine Clinical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; 2Nicholas Research Associates International, New York, NY, USA; 3Medical Affairs, Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., Basking Ridge, NJ, USA

Purpose: Acromegaly is a chronic condition resulting from a growth hormone-secreting pituitary tumor that can substantially impact patients' physical and emotional well-being. We sought to understand the impact of acromegaly on disease-related concerns and treatment choices from the patient perspective. The path to diagnosis, current disease management, interactions with the treating health care providers (HCPs), and support networks were also assessed.
Methods: Acromegaly patients were recruited primarily from a patient support group (Acromegaly Community). In Phase I, ten patients participated over the course of 5 days in a moderated online discussion board and they answered questions about their disease. In Phase II, a separate nine-patient cohort participated in face-to-face interviews conducted during an acromegaly patient conference. Data were summarized qualitatively by grouping similar answers and quotations.
Results: Nineteen acromegaly patients were recruited across the two cohorts, and both groups shared similar concerns. They demonstrated a notable interest in understanding their disease and its treatment. Patients were focused on the impact of the disease on their life, and they expressed a desire to get beyond reminders of their disease. The patients described long journeys to a correct diagnosis and relief at having a name for their condition. Many shared a sense of shock at needing pituitary surgery and felt unsatisfied by the treatment decision process, motivating them to discuss it with other patients. Patients not connected to a patient support group reported feeling helpless and lonely. Most patients shared a desire to improve their general knowledge about acromegaly to spare others their protracted diagnostic period. Patients also reported hesitancy in asking questions or sharing details about the disease's impact on their lives with their HCPs.
Conclusion: Acromegaly can be a life-changing diagnosis with profound, ongoing effects on patients' lives. Patients struggle with many issues they fail to openly share with their HCPs, but may discuss these issues more easily with other acromegaly patients. Better collaboration between patients and care providers could lead to increased patient satisfaction.

Keywords: acromegaly, impact on patients' lives, patient perspective, somatostatin analogs

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