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Yakovchenko V, Bolton RE, Drainoni ML, Gifford AL. Primary care provider perceptions and experiences of implementing hepatitis C virus birth cohort testing: a qualitative formative evaluation. BMC health services research. 2019 Apr 23; 19(1):236.
In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adopted a screening test policy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in all "Baby Boomers" - those born between 1945 and 1965. About 1 in 12 Veterans were estimated to be infected with HCV yet approximately 34% of the birth cohort remained untested. Early HCV diagnosis and successful antiviral treatment decrease the risk of onward transmission, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, liver transplant, and death. Implementing evidence-based HCV screening in primary care has great potential to reduce morbidity and mortality. To inform design and implementation of a quality improvement intervention, we studied primary care provider (PCP) perceptions of and experiences with HCV birth cohort testing.
We conducted a formative evaluation using qualitative semi-structured interviews guided by the integrated Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (i-PARIHS) framework. Twenty-two PCPs in six states across a large integrated US healthcare system were interviewed. Content analysis with a priori and emergent codes was performed on verbatim interview transcripts.
We identified three themes related to primary care provider HCV testing and linkage practices, as mapped to i-PARIHS constructs: 1) evaluating cues to HCV testing (innovation/evidence), 2) framing HCV testing decisions (recipients), and 3) HCV testing and linkage to care in the new treatment era (context). The most frequently reported HCV testing cue was an electronic clinical reminder alert, followed by clinical markers and the presence of behavioral risk factors. Most PCPs saw testing as routine, but less urgent, leading to some reluctance. Providers largely saw themselves as performing guideline-concordant testing, yet no performance data were available to assess performance. Given the recent availability of new HCV medications, many PCPs were highly motivated to test and link patients to specialty care for treatment.
Our results suggest a multi-component intervention around awareness and education, feedback of performance data, clinical reminder updates, and leadership support, would address both a significant need, and be deemed acceptable and feasible to primary care providers.