a Risk Communication Laboratory, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences , Temple University College of Public Health , Philadelphia , PA , USA.
b HepTREC , Philadelphia , PA , USA.
An estimated 70-90% of current methadone users have Hepatitis C (HCV). Current treatments have few side effects and can cure infection in 8-12 weeks, but less than 10% of methadone patients initiate treatment. Engaging this group in treatment is an important strategy to lower both morbidity and mortality from liver disease and eliminate a significant reservoir of HCV in communities. To understand how to address this treatment gap we used commercial marketing techniques called perceptual mapping and vector message modeling to analyze survey data from 100 HCV+ methadone patients from four centers in Philadelphia. Results were used to understand barriers and facilitators to treatment initiation and to devise targeted message strategies to adapt to a mobile health communication intervention. Results indicate that focusing on how treatment can make one feel "in charge", positive interactions with healthcare providers, the positive attributes of the new vs. old HCV treatments, and providing strategies to address tangible barriers to getting treatment, would be important to address in a communication intervention. These marketing methods allow for focusing on specific variables to "move" the group toward a treatment decision, making them an innovative technique to use in developing highly targeted health communication messages.