Aim of the study: To assess the impact of international consensus conference guidelines on the attitude of Swiss specialists when facing the decision to treat chronic hepatitis C patients.
Methods: Questionnaires focusing on the personal situation and treatment decisions were mailed to 165 patients who were newly diagnosed with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and enrolled into the Swiss Hepatitis C Cohort Study during the years 2002-2004.
Results: Survey respondents (n = 86, 52.1%) were comparable to non-respondents with respect to severity of liver disease, history of substance abuse and psychiatric co-morbidities. Seventy percent of survey respondents reported having been offered antiviral treatment. Patients deferred from treatment had less advanced liver fibrosis, were more frequently infected with HCV genotypes 1 or 4 and presented more often with a history of depression. There were no differences regarding age, socio-economic background, alcohol abuse, intravenous drug abuse or methadone treatment when compared with patients to whom treatment was proposed. Ninety percent of eligible patients agreed to undergo treatment. Overall, 54.6% of respondents and 78.3% of those considered eligible had actually received antiviral therapy by 2007. Ninety-five percent of patients reported high satisfaction with their own hepatitis C management.
Conclusions: Consistent with latest international consensus guidelines, patients enrolled in the Swiss Hepatitis C Cohort with a history of substance abuse were not withheld antiviral treatment. A multidisciplinary approach is warranted to provide antiviral treatment to patients suffering from depression.