Purpose: Investigating patients’ perceptions of their illness can provide important insights into the experience and management of the illness and associated treatment, and enhance understanding of variations in adherence to prescribed medication. The Common-Sense Model of Self-Regulation (CSM) provides a theoretical framework for the study of illness cognitions, health behavior and adherence to health recommendations. The aim of this study was to use the CSM to investigate the experience of glaucoma and its treatment from the patient’s perspective, and to apply these insights to classify and clarify issues related to non-adherence with treatment.
Patients and methods: A qualitative investigation using semi-structured interviews took place in two outpatient glaucoma clinics. Thirty-three patients with primary open-angle glaucoma using hypotensive eye drops participated in the study. Deductive content analysis was used to analyze the interview data.
Results: Issues relating to non-adherence with hypotensive eye drops and patients’ experience with their glaucoma and treatment were identified. Treatment schedule and patient factors were classified as common barriers to adherence. Further themes include experienced symptoms of glaucoma, illness coherence and the emotional and practical consequences of the illness.
Conclusion: Findings provide important insights into the emotional and practical outcomes of glaucoma for patients, perceived symptoms of the illness, and insights into patient memory and cognition. These findings provide supporting evidence for the importance of conducting theoretically-driven qualitative investigations of patients’ experience with glaucoma and their treatment, and provide suggestions on key issues that need to be addressed in future multi-dimensional interventions aimed at improving adherence and patient quality of life.