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Determinants of Hepatitis C Treatment Adherence and Treatment Completion Among Veterans in the Direct Acting Antiviral Era.

Patel K, Zickmund SL, Jones H, Reid A, Calgaro L, Otero A, Coppler T, Rogal SS. Determinants of Hepatitis C Treatment Adherence and Treatment Completion Among Veterans in the Direct Acting Antiviral Era. Digestive diseases and sciences. 2019 Oct 1; 64(10):3001-3012.

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BACKGROUND: Despite the availability of direct acting antiviral medications (DAAs), there are ongoing concerns about adherence to hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment. We sought to understand the barriers to and facilitators of DAA adherence in the Veteran population. METHODS: Patients completed semi-structured interviews focused on barriers to and facilitators of HCV treatment adherence both pre- and post-DAA treatment. Adherence was assessed via provider pill count and self-report. Thematic analyses were conducted in the qualitative software program Atlas.ti in order to understand anticipated barriers to and facilitators of treatment adherence and completion. Charts were reviewed for clinical data and sustained virologic response (SVR12). RESULTS: Of 40 patients, 15 had cirrhosis and 10 had prior interferon-based treatment. Pre-treatment interviews revealed anticipated barriers to adherence such as side effects (n? = 21) and forgetting pills (n? = 11). Most patients (n? = 27) reported following provider advice, and others had unique reasons not to (e.g., feeling like a "guinea pig"). Post-treatment interviews uncovered facilitators of treatment including wanting to cure HCV (n? = 17), positive results (n? = 18), and minimal side effects (n? = 15). Three patients (8%) did not complete therapy (whom we further elaborate on) and 6 (15%) missed doses but completed treatment. SVR12 was achieved by all participants who completed therapy (93%). Patients who did not complete therapy or missed doses were all treatment naïve, mostly non-cirrhotic (8 of 9), and often anticipated concerns with forgetting their medications. CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative study uncovered several unanticipated determinants of HCV treatment completion and provides rationale for several targeted interventions such as incorporating structured positive reinforcement.

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