Division of General Internal Medicine, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA Division of Gastroenterology, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
Background: Although vaccination against hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) is recommended for all patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, physician vaccination practices are suboptimal. Since training for family medicine (FM) and internal medicine (IM) physicians differ, we hypothesised that there are differences in knowledge, attitudes and barriers regarding vaccination against HAV and HBV in patients with chronic HCV between these two groups. Methods: A two-page questionnaire was mailed to 3000 primary care (FM and IM) physicians randomly selected from the AMA Physician Masterfile in 2005. The survey included questions about physician demographics, knowledge and attitudes regarding vaccination. Results: Among the 3000 physicians surveyed, 1209 (42.2%) returned completed surveys. There were no differences between respondents and non-respondents with regard to age, gender, geographic location or specialty. More FM than IM physicians stated that HCV+ patients should not be vaccinated against HAV (23.7% vs. 11.8%, p < 0.001) or HBV (21.9% vs. 10.6%, p < 0.001). FM physicians were also less likely than IM physicians to usually/always test HCV+ patients for immunity against HAV (33.9% vs. 48.6%, p < 0.001) or against HBV (50.8% vs. 68.0%, p < 0.001). There were numerous barriers to HAV and HBV vaccination identified. The median number of barriers was 3 for FM physicians and 2 for IM physicians (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Despite recommendations to vaccinate against HAV and HBV in patients with chronic HCV infection, physicians often do not test or vaccinate susceptible individuals. Interventions are needed to overcome the barriers identified and improve vaccination rates.