Managing recurrent vulvovaginal thrush from patient and healthcare professional perspectives: A systematic review and thematic synthesis
Ford T., Talbot A., Hayward G., Tonkin-Crine S., Ziebland S., McNiven A.
Objective: This systematic review aims to identify what is known about patient and healthcare professional experiences of managing recurrent vulvovaginal thrush by synthesising published findings. Methods: Five databases were searched for studies on patient and healthcare professional experiences managing recurrent thrush. Two reviewers independently screened and quality assessed qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies. Findings from eligible studies were thematically synthesised. Results: 720 papers were identified, and 29 were included. Four descriptive themes were developed to depict the repeated management of recurrent thrush. These themes were: (re)experiencing impacts, (re)identifying recurrent thrush, (re)considering consultations, and (re)trying treatments. An analytic high-order frame of ‘interwoven and reoccurring uncertainties’ was used to understand these themes. Conclusions: Patients and healthcare providers face uncertainties when managing recurrent thrush. The inconsistencies raised across papers suggests an unaddressed gap in knowledge about patient experiences and their informational and support needs; this includes insights about this condition's diagnosis, management, treatment, impacts, and meaning. Practice implications: This review has implications for patient education, health promotion, and communication between patients and providers. Our interpretations suggest the need for more research and resources to help support patients and clinicians in managing this condition to promote more understanding, communication, and collaborative care.