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Views of hepatitis C virus patients delayed from treatment for psychiatric reasons.

Rowan PJ, Dunn NJ, El-Serag HB, Kunik ME. Views of hepatitis C virus patients delayed from treatment for psychiatric reasons. Journal of Viral Hepatitis. 2007 Dec 1; 14(12):883-9.

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For patients with chronic hepatitis C virus, certain psychiatric disorders are contraindications for antiviral therapy with interferon-alpha (IFN). Although these conditions delay a significant portion of patients from beginning therapy, no one has yet portrayed the views of these patients. A qualitative analysis, drawing upon semi-structured interviews, was developed to generate hypotheses regarding patient views of the treatment disposition process, and to generate strategies for increasing the portion of treatment-eligible patients. Two focus groups were conducted: one for patients delayed from treatment due to current or recent depression, and one for patients delayed due to current or recent alcohol use. A grounded theory analysis of the interview data were conducted. Patients were generally satisfied with the decision-making process, based largely on education from, and trust in, physicians. Upon learning their diagnosis, patients reported making healthy behaviour changes regarding alcohol, diet, exercise and herbal remedies. Some patients reported that requiring a period of alcohol abstinence was excessive, as they believed that they could discontinue alcohol use immediately, if so instructed by a physician. Patients seemed to over-interpret the likelihood of suicide during interferon-alpha (IFN) therapy. Current or recent psychiatric morbidity delays many patients from beginning interferon therapy. Nonetheless, this may be an optimal time for physicians to encourage healthy behaviours including abstinence from alcohol. Also, physicians may need to extensively assess the use of herbal remedies by patients. To help patients make judgments about beginning therapy, physicians should focus upon risk communication regarding the likelihood of suicide on therapy with interferon.

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