Objective: Acromegaly is a rare condition and there is often a long path to diagnosis for many patients. We sought to explore patient’s perceptions and understanding of acromegaly, to examine the quality of communication and find gaps in the information provided at diagnosis.
Design: A prospective study using qualitative research methodology and grounded theory. A semi-structured interview was conducted with 18 patients treated for acromegaly in a single tertiary centre and verbatim transcripts were thematically analysed for overarching themes.
Results: 18 patients with acromegaly were interviewed. The mean age of participants was 52 (range 30–72). Four overarching themes emerged: (1) Patients rely on online resources to understand acromegaly in the time between diagnosis and tertiary care clinic; (2) There is not enough support available for patients; (3) Patients have a basic understanding of acromegaly and associated conditions, but the long term impact is underestimated; (4) Patients initially felt intimidated by the multidisciplinary team panel, but overall found it useful.
Conclusion: Acromegalic patients have a strong need for information at the point of initial diagnosis, in particular online resources and interaction with other experienced patients. Wider dissemination of patient educational resources into primary and secondary care settings may improve overall patient satisfaction, treatment adherence and subsequent health care provider-patient relationships.