Management of Hepatitis B: A Longitudinal National Survey – Impact of the Canadian Hepatitis B Consensus Guidelines
BACKGROUND: The Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver, and The Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Canada, jointly developed the Canadian Chronic Hepatitis B (HBV) Consensus Guidelines to assist practitioners involved in the management of this complex disease. These guidelines were published in The Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology in June 2007 and distributed to all Canadian gastroenterologists and hepatologists.OBJECTIVE: To assess the degree to which Canadian specialist physicians were able to incorporate the recommendations from the Canadian HBV Consensus Guidelines into their daily practice.METHODS: A 30 min telephone survey probing the management strategies of 80 key HBV specialists was completed on three occasions, eight months apart, to longitudinally assess the impact of the Canadian HBV Consensus Guidelines on the management of HBV. The questionnaire detailed HBV practice patterns, the impact of the Canadian HBV Consensus Guidelines on clinical practice and HBV management.RESULTS: The majority of specialists incorporated many of the published recommendations outlined in the Canadian HBV Consensus Guidelines into their daily practice for patients with HBV. However, because public drug coverage is a major hurdle in the management of HBV, patients are provided markedly different HBV treatments depending on whether they have public or private drug insurance coverage.CONCLUSIONS: The management of HBV is growing in complexity and continues to evolve rapidly. The Canadian HBV Consensus Guidelines have served as a valuable tool for many physicians in the management of HBV. However, effective treatment algorithms continue to be rendered irrelevant by restrictive drug coverage issues. Coverage for effective therapies and, therefore, management of HBV, differs widely across Canada depending on therapy reimbursement criteria rather than patient characteristics.