The Effect of a Diagnosis on Patients With Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome: A Qualitative Approach.

Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) is a chronic pain condition that significantly affects patient quality of life. We investigated whether receiving a formal medical diagnosis of IC/BPS was perceived by patients to improve symptoms and disease-specific quality of life.

Participants with self-reported IC/BPS completed publicly available online surveys. Surveys included demographic information, validated questionnaires, and a free-text response. Participants were asked to comment on the utility of obtaining a diagnosis. Investigators coded the responses and analyzed the results using grounded theory methodology.

Six hundred seventy-three participants who responded to the free-text were analyzed. The mean age of respondents was 52 years, with an average of 10 years since IC/BPS diagnosis. The IC/BPS pain syndrome diagnosis had wide ranging effects on both symptoms and coping. These effects were often mediated by improvements in perceived control and empowerment after diagnosis. Although most participants noted benefit after diagnosis of IC/BPS, some reported harmful effects ranging from stigmatization by providers to desperation when told that there was not a cure.

A formal medical diagnosis of IC/BPS has a significant effect on patients who experience the condition. Although diagnosis usually improves symptoms and coping, a universal experience was not described by all IC/BPS patients. Given that most patients report improvement, more work is needed to expedite diagnosis. In addition, we must better understand factors associated with lack of symptom and quality of life improvement after an IC/BPS diagnosis has been made by medical providers.

Female pelvic medicine & reconstructive surgery. 2020 Nov 16 [Epub ahead of print]

Katherine A Volpe, Emi Komatsu, Larissa V Rodriguez, Christina E Dancz, Avita K Pahwa

From the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

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