Several patient characteristics are known to impact hepatitis C virus (HCV) antiviral treatment rates. However, it is unclear whether, and to what extent, health-care providers or facility characteristics impact HCV treatment rates.
Using national data obtained from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) HCV Clinical Case Registry, we conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients with active HCV viremia, who were diagnosed between 2003 and 2004. We evaluated patient-, provider-, and facility-level predictors of receipt of HCV treatment with hierarchical logistic regression.
The overall HCV treatment rate in 29,695 patients was 14.2%. The strongest independent predictor for receipt of treatment was consultation with an HCV specialist (odds ratio=9.34; 8.03-10.87). Patients were less likely to receive HCV treatment if they were Black, older, male, current users of alcohol or drugs, had HCV genotype 1 or 4, had higher creatinine levels, or had severe anxiety/post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Patients with high hemoglobin levels, cirrhosis, and persistently high liver enzyme levels were more likely to receive treatment. Patient, provider, and facility factors explained 15, 4, and 4%, respectively, of the variation in treatment rates.
Treatment rates for HCV are low in the VA. In addition to several important patient-level characteristics, a specialist consultant has a vital role in determining whether a patient should receive HCV treatment. These findings support the development of patient-level interventions targeted at identifying and managing comorbidities and contraindications and fostering greater involvement of specialists in the care of HCV.