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  1. Saunders, Jana C. PhD, RN, CS
  2. Cookman, Craig A. PhD, RN


A clarified conceptual meaning of depression in individuals with hepatitis C virus infection is proposed based on a critical review of literature. Moving beyond an exclusively biomedical perspective, depression in hepatitis C is explained by a cluster of factors that incorporate physiological, psychological, and social dimensions. Symptom experience, stigma, and uncertainty are factors that span the complex nature of depression in individuals with hepatitis C. This broadened perspective incorporates individual and societal values and beliefs regarding hepatitis C and encompasses the multidimensional complexity of depression in hepatitis C. Hepatitis C-related depression presents an enormous challenge for nurses because of its interference with treatment adherence and significant negative impact on the individual's quality of life. Nursing theorists, researchers, and clinicians may benefit from a clear conceptual understanding of the unique nature of depression in this growing segment of the U.S. population. This clarified conceptual meaning needs to be validated through qualitative, quantitative, and longitudinal studies with this population. It is hoped that future theorists, researchers, and practitioners will contribute to our conceptual understanding, resulting in improved quality of life for this special population.