Adherence during antiviral treatment regimens for chronic hepatitis C: a qualitative study of patient-reported facilitators and barriers

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2015 May-Jun;49(5):e41-50. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000151.


Goals: To understand patients' perceptions of factors which facilitate and hinder adherence to inform adherence-enhancing interventions.

Background: Adherence to antiviral therapy for hepatitis C viral infection is critical to achieving a sustained virological response. However, persistence with and adherence to antiviral regimens can pose challenges for patients that interfere with sustained virological response.

Study: A qualitative analysis of 21 semistructured patient interviews using open-ended questions and specific follow-up probes was conducted. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and content-analyzed iteratively to determine frequent and salient themes.

Results: Three broad themes emerged: (1) missing doses and dose-timing errors; (2) facilitators of adherence; and (3) barriers to adherence. Open-ended questioning revealed few dose-timing deviations, but more specific probes uncovered several more occurrences of delays in dosing. Facilitators of adherence fell into 2 broad categories: (a) patient knowledge and motivation; and (b) practical behavioral strategies and routines. Facilitators were noted post hoc to be consistent with the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model of Adherence. Barriers to adherence involved changes in daily routine, being preoccupied with family or work responsibilities, and sleeping through dosing times. A few patients reported skipping doses due to side effects. Patients with previous hepatitis C virus treatment experience may have fewer dose-timing errors. Finally, a high level of anxiety among some patients was discovered regarding dosing errors. Emotional and informational support from clinical and research staff was key to assuaging patient fears.

Conclusion: This qualitative study improves our understanding of patients' perspectives regarding adhering to hepatitis C treatment and can lead to the development of adherence-enhancing interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Habits
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Polyethylene Glycols / therapeutic use
  • Qualitative Research
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Ribavirin