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Predictors of treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection - role of patient versus nonpatient factors.

Kanwal F, Hoang T, Spiegel BM, Eisen S, Dominitz JA, Gifford A, Goetz M, Asch SM. Predictors of treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection - role of patient versus nonpatient factors. Hepatology. 2007 Dec 1; 46(6):1741-9.

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Treatment with interferon and ribavirin is effective in patients with chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Previous data indicate that treatment rates are suboptimal. We sought to identify patient and provider-level predictors of treatment receipt in HCV by conducting a retrospective cohort study of 5701 HCV patients in a large regional Veteran's Administration (VA) healthcare network. We also determined the degree of variation in treatment rates attributable to patient, provider, and facility factors. Three thousand seven hundred forty-three patients (65%) were seen by a specialist and 894 (15.7%) received treatment. Treatment rates varied from 6% to 29% across the 5 facilities included in the analysis. Patients were less likely to receive treatment if they were older [RR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.45, 0.67), single (RR, 0.77; 95%CI, 0.67, 0.88), had hepatic dysfunction (RR, 0.73; 95%CI, 0.66, 0.89), had normal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (RR, 0.73; 95%CI, 0.59, 0.89), had HCV genotype 1 (RR, 0.78; 95%CI, 0.71, 0.86), were African American with genotype 1 (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.71, 0.86), or were anemic (RR, 0.70; CI, 0.60, 0.89). In addition, patients evaluated by less experienced providers were 77% less likely to receive treatment than those evaluated by more experienced providers. The patient, provider, and facility factors explained 23%, 25%, and 7% of variation in treatment rates, respectively. Conclusion: These data suggest that although patient characteristics are important predictors of treatment in HCV, a significant proportion of variation in treatment rates is explained by provider factors. These potentially modifiable provider-level factors may serve as high-yield targets for future quality improvement initiatives in HCV.

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