Infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is associated with high morbidity and increased mortality but many patients avoid initiation of treatment or report challenges with treatment completion. The study objective was to identify motivators and barriers for treatment initiation and completion in a community sample of HCV-infected patients in the United States.
Survey methods were employed to identify factors reported by patients as important in their decision to start or complete HCV treatment. Study participants included 120 HCV-infected individuals: 30 had previously completed treatment with pegylated interferon/ribavirin (PR), 30 had discontinued PR, 30 were treated with PR at the time of the survey, and 30 were treatment-naive. Telephone interviews occurred between May and August of 2011 and employed a standardized guide. Participants assigned factors a rating from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important). Trained researchers coded and analyzed interview transcripts.
Of 33 factors, expected health problems from not treating HCV infection was reported as most encouraging for treatment initiation and completion, while treatment side effects was most discouraging. Sixty-nine percent of participants reported that the ability to obtain information during treatment on the likelihood of treatment success (i.e., results of viral load testing) would motivate them to initiate therapy. Median preferred timing for learning about test results was 5 weeks (range: 1--23 weeks).
Understanding challenges and expectations from patients is important in identifying opportunities for education to optimize patient adherence to their HCV treatment regimen.