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The impact of primary and recurrent genital herpes on the quality of life of young people and adults: a mixed methods systematic review

Bennett, Clare ORCID:, Rebafka, Anne, Carrier, Judith ORCID:, Cook, Sinead and Edwards, Deborah ORCID: 2022. The impact of primary and recurrent genital herpes on the quality of life of young people and adults: a mixed methods systematic review. JBI Evidence Synthesis 20 (6) , pp. 1406-1473. 10.11124/JBIES-21-00057

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Objective This review sought to identify what it is like to live with and what interventions improve the health related quality of life (HRQoL) of adults with primary or recurrent genital herpes. Introduction Genital herpes is frequently associated with psychosocial challenges. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that its impact can be ameliorated through pharmacological and psycho-social interventions. Inclusion Criteria All English language studies concerning community dwelling males and females, of all ethnicities, aged 15 years and over, who had primary or recurrent genital herpes and were able to report on the virus’s impact on their HRQoL and/or the efficacy of interventions in improving their HRQoL were included. Methods Eleven databases were interrogated from January 1980 to March 2020. The JBI approach to Mixed Methods Systematic Reviews was followed at each stage of the review and a convergent segregated approach to synthesis and integration was adopted. Results Of 2599 citations initially identified as potentially relevant, 31 were deemed suitable for inclusion. Studies encompassed quantitative (n=27, across 28 publications), qualitative (n=1) and mixed methods (n=2) designs. Critical appraisal scores were variable, particularly among the RCTs and the analytical cross-sectional studies. All studies were included regardless of methodological quality. The qualitative component of the review led to the identification of two synthesized findings: ‘Disclosure of a diagnosis of genital herpes poses a dilemma for people who have the virus’ and ‘A diagnosis of genital herpes has a significant emotional impact for the individual’. The quantitative components identified that depression, illness concern, stress, anxiety, isolation, stigma and a lowering of self-esteem, self-concept, self-confidence and HRQoL may be experienced by both those newly diagnosed with genital herpes and those with recurrences. It was also identified that genital herpes can have an adverse effect on work or school, sexual relationships and relationships with friends and family. Depression was found to significantly decrease after self-hypnosis and certain psychosocial interventions. Anxiety significantly decreased following pharmacological treatment, psychosocial interventions and hypnosis respectively. Psychosocial interventions significantly improved mood and a self-help module with counselling significantly improved participants’ satisfaction with intimate relationships and their self-esteem. Pharmacological treatment significantly improved HRQoL, however there were no significant differences between different active treatment regimens. Integration of quantitative and qualitative evidence revealed a consensus that a diagnosis of genital herpes has a significant emotional impact for individuals and disclosure is stressful, affects relationships and HRQoL, but there is a lack of consensus regarding efficacy of different interventions. Conclusions Genital herpes can lead to extreme emotional, social, relational and sexual distress but there is insufficient knowledge concerning which interventions best improve HRQoL. High quality research is, therefore, required.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
ISSN: 2689-8381
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 September 2021
Date of Acceptance: 17 September 2021
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 21:38

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