Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease
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Background: Patient-centered health care for children with inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) and their families is important and requires an understanding of patient experiences, needs, and priorities. IEM-specific patient groups have emerged as important voices within these rare disease communities and are uniquely positioned to contribute to this understanding. We conducted qualitative interviews with IEM patient group representatives to increase understanding of patient and family experiences, needs, and priorities and inform patient-centered research and care. Methods: We developed a sampling frame of patient groups representing IEM disease communities from Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom. With consent, we interviewed participants to explore their views on experiences, needs, and outcomes that are most important to children with IEM and their families. We analyzed the data using a qualitative descriptive approach to identify key themes and sub-themes. Results: We interviewed 18 organizational representatives between February 28 and September 17, 2014, representing 16 IEMs and/or disease categories. Twelve participants voluntarily self-identified as parents and/or were themselves patients. Three key themes emerged from the coded data: managing the uncertainty associated with raising and caring for a child with a rare disease; challenges associated with the affected child’s life transitions, and; the collective struggle for improved outcomes and interventions that rare disease communities navigate. Conclusion: Health care providers can support children with IEM and their families by acknowledging and reducing uncertainty, supporting families through children’s life transitions, and contributing to rare disease communities’ progress toward improved interventions, experiences, and outcomes.