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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 20 (2006), Issue 2, Pages 107-111
Original Article

Predictors of Antiviral Therapy in a Post-Transfusion Cohort of Hepatitis C Patients

Maciej Witkos,1 Qi-Long Yi,2 Jenny Heathcote,3 Moira K Kapral,1 and Murray D Krahn1,3

1Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto General Hospital, Canada
2Department of Public Health Sciences, Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, Canada
3Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Received 7 July 2005; Accepted 18 July 2005

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


INTRODUCTION: In the past, antiviral therapy has been given to 15% to 30% of patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The efficacy of therapy has recently improved with the addition of ribavirin and pegylated interferon. The aim of the present study was to identify the clinical, socioeconomic and health-system predictors of antiviral treatment for HCV.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis of compensation claims data of patients who acquired HCV through blood transfusions between 1986 and 1990 was performed. The patients consisted of 2456 Canadian HCV-positive individuals. The authors reviewed narrative comments from physicians, and constructed univariate and multivariate logistic regression models, using receipt of antiviral therapy with interferon or interferon/ribavirin as the primary outcome.

RESULTS: Of the 2456 patients, approximately 30% appeared to be eligible, but only 16% received treatment. Univariate analyses suggested that the disease severity, age, HIV status and province of residence were associated with the likelihood of receiving treatment (P<0.01). The final, multivariable model indicated that in patients with HCV: intermediate disease severity (eg, fibrosis, P<0.0001); middle age (P<0.0001); HIV-negative status (P<0.0001); and province of residence (Quebec, P<0.0001; and Saskatchewan, P<0.0001) were independent predictors of treatment. Narrative comments of physicians emphasized the importance of age, HIV status and patient preferences in clinical decision-making.

DISCUSSION: Given the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of current antiviral therapy, treatment rates of HCV patients may be suboptimal. Further work is required to understand barriers to treatment related to geography, organization of medical care, age, medical provider and patient preferences.