1 Department of Psychiatry, Fondazione IRCSS Cà Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Università degli Studi di Milano , Milan, Italy .
Peg-interferon (Peg-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) therapy is reported to induce psychiatric symptoms and syndromes in 20% of patients treated for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection. Present study was aimed to quantify the phenomenon and assess the influence of psychiatric counseling over antiviral completion rate and the use of psychometric tools, in terms of prediction of psychopathological outcome. Ninety-six HCV patients were assessed, before antiviral treatment, by means of the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS), Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ), Symptom Checklist-90, and Internal State Scale (ISS). Sociodemographic and clinical variables and completion rate were collected. Binary logistic regression was performed to evaluate whether scores were predictive of psychiatric visit, development of psychiatric disorders, and need for treatment. Ninety-five patients (99%) completed antiviral treatment; 27 subjects (29%) needed psychiatric visit: among them, mood disorder was diagnosed in 15 (16%) and were pharmacologically treated. Baseline SDS and MDQ higher scores were found to be predictive of psychiatric visit [odds ratio (OR)=1.258, P<0.001 and OR=1.425, P=0.05, respectively]. Furthermore, higher MDQ score (P=0.017) and ISS hostility scores (OR=1.048, P=0.014) at baseline predicted the subsequent development of mood episodes, while ISS activation correlated negatively (OR=0.948, P=0.009). Finally, the need for treatment was predicted by higher scores at the MDQ and ISS activation items (OR=2.467, P=0.030; OR=0.970, P=0.038). Present findings suggest that psychiatric counseling may be needed in almost 30% of HCV patients on antiviral treatment, with positive influence over the completion rate. Baseline higher scores at psychometric questionnaires-MDQ-in particular, predictors of psychopathological outcome during Peg-IFN and RBV therapy in patients with chronic HCV-correlated hepatitis reflecting individual functioning before starting antiviral therapy and positive history for mood disorders, seem to predict psychiatric visit, onset of mood episodes, and need for psychopharmacological treatment. Further investigation is warranted to confirm results.