BACKGROUND & AIMS: Education of patients with chronic hepatitis C has been proposed to increase response to therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin. We performed a prospective study to determine the effects of systematic consultation by a nurse on patient adherence and the efficacy of therapy.
METHODS: We analyzed data from 244 patients who received either systematic consultation, after each medical visit, from a nurse who used a standard evaluation grid and provided information about the disease and treatment (group A [GrA], n= 123) or the conventional clinical follow-up procedure (group B [GrB], n = 121). Treatment lasted 24 to 48 weeks.
RESULTS: Characteristics of each group were similar at baseline, including prior treatment (42.6% in GrA and 36.0% in GrB). Overall, GrA had significantly better adherence to treatment that GrB (74.0% vs 62.8%), especially among patients who received 48 weeks of treatment (69.7% vs 53.2%; P < .03). Significantly more patients in GrA had a sustained virologic response, compared with GrB overall (38.2% vs 24.8%; P < .02), as well as treatment-naive patients (47.1% vs 30.3%; P < .05), and those with genotypes 1, 4, or 5 infections (31.6% vs 13.3%; P < .007). There were no differences between GrA and GrB in response of patients with genotypes 2 or 3 infections or advanced fibrosis. Prognostic factors for a sustained virologic response (based on bivariate and multivariate analyses) were virologic response at week 12 (odds ratio [OR], 1.9; P < .0001), genotypes 2 or 3 (OR, 2.9; P < .0001), therapeutic education (OR, 2.5; P < .02), and lack of previous treatment (OR, 2.3; P < .005).
CONCLUSIONS: Therapeutic education by a specialized nurse increases the response of patients with hepatitis C to therapy, particularly in difficult-to-treat patients.