Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels predict future complications in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients. To determine when to initiate antiviral therapy, treatment guidelines recommend monitoring of HBV DNA and ALT levels at least annually. This study aimed to assess adherence to treatment guideline-recommended monitoring of CHB patients not receiving antiviral treatment and to identify predictors of laboratory monitoring and subsequent initiation of antiviral therapy.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study used data from a large US health care claims database over a 5-year period (January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2007). The study population included patients 18-65 years of age with at least two paid medical claims with an ICD-9 code for CHB, at least one positive hepatitis B surface antigen test, and at least 12 months of continuous health plan enrollment after initial diagnosis. Descriptive statistics assessed the proportion of patients with claims for ALT and/or HBV DNA monitoring. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to determine predictors of monitoring and subsequent antiviral therapy.
Results: The study included 1,168 CHB patients, with a mean follow-up of 728 days (median = 696 days). The proportion monitored at least every 12 months was 53.3% for ALT, 39.0% for HBV DNA, and 35.1% for both. Significant predictors of monitoring were a higher Deyo-Charlson Comorbidity Index (DCCI) score for ALT (OR 1.90, p < 0.001), male gender for HBV DNA (OR 1.49, p < 0.01), and a higher DCCI score (OR 1.10, p < 0.05) and male gender (1.46, p < 0.01) for both. Significant predictors of subsequent initiation of antiviral treatment were HBV DNA monitoring (OR 2.08, p < 0.001), a higher DCCI score (OR 1.24, p < 0.001), and male gender (OR 1.53, p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Laboratory monitoring of CHB patients not receiving antiviral treatment is below guideline recommendations, suggesting that initiation of antiviral therapy may also be delayed, leaving patients at risk for disease progression.