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Rationale: Lower-income patients with sarcoidosis experience worse outcomes than those with higher incomes. The reasons for these disparities are not well understood. Objectives: To identify patient-reported barriers to and facilitators of self-empowered care among patients with sarcoidosis residing in high- and low-median-income zip-code areas. Methods: Patients with biopsy-proven sarcoidosis who had received pharmacologic treatment within the past year and who were cared for in a sarcoidosis clinic of a large, urban medical system were included. Focus groups were stratified by high- and low-median-income zip-code areas. Transcriptions were analyzed using grounded theory. Results: Five focus groups were created; two included patients living in zip-code areas with high median incomes ($84,263; interquartile range [IQR], $79,334-$89,795), and three included patients living in zip-code areas with low median incomes ($27,470; IQR, $22,412-27,597). Patients with sarcoidosis from low-income and high-income zip-code areas reported remarkably similar experiences. Patients reported that sarcoidosis was a burden owing to its disease manifestations and the adverse effects of treatment, which led to a compromised ability to perform their activities of daily living at home or at work. Reported barriers to care included perceived inadequate knowledge about sarcoidosis among providers, communication barriers with providers, and the high cost of treatment. Patients from low-income zip-code areas experienced discrimination related to race and income, which served to compound their mistrust. Patients sought to overcome these barriers through self-empowerment, including independent learning, self-advocacy, medication nonadherence, and use of alternative therapies. Conclusions: Patients with sarcoidosis who lived in high- and low-income zip-code areas expressed similar overall concerns regarding sarcoidosis care. However, patients from low-income zip-code areas more frequently expressed concerns about racial and income-based discrimination. Patients from both groups addressed these barriers through self-empowerment, which included not adhering to prescribed therapies. Future work should focus on the effects of culturally and socioeconomically congruent, community-engaged interventions for quality of life of patients with sarcoidosis.


Logan J Harper, Gabrielle Love, Rijuta Singh, Andre Smith, Daniel A Culver, J Daryl Thornton. Barriers to Care among Patients with Sarcoidosis: A Qualitative Study. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2021 Nov;18(11):1832-1838

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PMID: 33856968

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