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, 104 (12), 2949-58

Prospective Analysis of Depression During Peginterferon and Ribavirin Therapy of Chronic Hepatitis C: Results of the Virahep-C Study

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Prospective Analysis of Depression During Peginterferon and Ribavirin Therapy of Chronic Hepatitis C: Results of the Virahep-C Study

Donna M Evon et al. Am J Gastroenterol.


Objectives: Combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C is associated with depression, which may lead to worse treatment outcomes. The objectives of this study were to determine the association between patient characteristics and depression before and during treatment and to evaluate the relationship between depression and treatment outcomes.

Methods: Prospective data from the Viral Resistance to Antiviral Therapy of Chronic Hepatitis C (Virahep-C) study were analyzed (191 African Americans, 203 Caucasians). Depression was defined as a score of >23 on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. Scores were taken before treatment, at weeks 4, 12, and 24 of treatment, and 24 weeks after treatment ended. Baseline social support was measured using the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Social Support Survey. Associations between baseline patient characteristics and incident depression were assessed with discrete-time Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: At baseline, 47 (12%) participants had CES-D scores 23. Univariable analyses indicated that several patient characteristics were associated with baseline depression, including lower social support (P<0.0001). On treatment, these patients were more likely to have psychiatric adverse events (AEs) or start new antidepressants (45 vs. 28%, P=0.02) and to have had early treatment discontinuation (38 vs.13%, P<0.0001); however, sustained virological response (SVR) rates were similar (38 vs. 40%, P=0.79) to those of participants without baseline depression. The incidence of new-onset depression was 26% by 24 weeks. One-third of patients were started on antidepressants, and no patients attempted suicide. Multivariable analyses indicated that new-onset depression was significantly associated with younger age (P=0.04), lower social support (P<0.001), and "feeling depressed, sad, or blue" (P=0.008). Patients who developed depression during treatment were more likely to have a psychiatric AE or begin antidepressants (44 vs. 23%, P<0.001) but had lower rates of treatment discontinuation (6 vs. 15%, P=0.02) and comparable rates of SVR compared with patients without depression (47 vs. 38%, P=0.16). There were no differences in the frequency of pretreatment or new-onset depression between African-American and Caucasian participants in this study.

Conclusions: In this large prospective analysis, baseline and new-onset depression were associated with patient characteristics and treatment outcomes; however, SVR rates did not differ between depressed and nondepressed patients. The relationship of lower baseline social support with depressive symptoms warrants further investigation.

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