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Patient and caregiver experiences of living with acute hepatic porphyria in the UK: a mixed-methods study

Background: This study used quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyze how acute hepatic porphyria (AHP) affects patients with varying annualized porphyria attack rates. The overall impact of AHP on patients and caregivers, including their quality of life, was explored. The nature and treatment of acute attacks, experiences of long-term heme arginate treatment and access to other appropriate treatment, and the extent of and treatment for chronic symptoms were also investigated within this study. Methods: Patient and caregiver data were collected via an online survey of members of the British Porphyria Association, followed by an optional 1-h telephone interview. Results: Thirty-eight patients and 10 caregivers responded to the survey. Of those, 10 patients and three caregivers completed follow-up interviews. Overall, 19 patients (50%) had experienced an acute attack within the previous 2 years, and the severity and types of symptoms experienced during or between acute attacks varied considerably. There were no clear definitions among patients for ‘mild’ or ‘severe’ attacks. Treatments and treatment settings used to manage attacks also varied. Following unsatisfactory care experiences at hospitals, some patients reported avoiding further hospital services for later attacks. Therefore, using settings of care as a measure of attack severity should be avoided. Ninety-four percent of patients also experienced chronic symptoms, which were as varied as acute attacks. Pain was the predominant chronic symptom and was managed with opioids in severe cases. Regardless of AAR, porphyria heavily impacted the daily lives of patients and caregivers. Although patients experiencing frequent attacks generally endured a greater impact on their daily life, patients with less frequent attacks also experienced impacts on all domains (social, leisure activities, relationship with family, relationships, psychological wellbeing, finances, employment, and study). Caregivers were most affected in the finance, relationships with family, and employment domains, and just over half of the caregivers reported a moderate impact on their psychological wellbeing. Conclusions/implications: The burden of illness with AHP is high across all patients, regardless of frequency of attacks, and AHP negatively affects patients and caregivers alike.

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Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
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