Previous studies have identified gaps in hepatitis B care. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the delivery of care among a national cohort of US veterans with chronic hepatitis B infection and examine risk factors for adverse clinical outcomes. We conducted a retrospective cohort study using the Veterans Health Administration Corporate Data Warehouse from 1999 to 2013 to evaluate (1) care delivery and (2) clinical outcomes such as hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatic decompensation, and mortality among US veterans with hepatitis B. Incidence rates with 95% confidence intervals were calculated and Cox regression models were used to evaluate clinical outcomes. We identified 21,419 veterans with a positive hepatitis B surface antigen, and 97% of patients had alanine aminotransferase and 44% had hepatitis B virus DNA testing; hepatitis B e antigen and hepatitis B e antibody were tested <50% of the time. Patients receiving specialty care had a higher prevalence of recommended laboratory testing. Patients with elevated alanine aminotransferase in specialty care were more likely to receive antiviral therapy (50% versus 24% for specialty care versus no specialty care, P < 0.001). Among patients with cirrhosis, 69% received one-time liver imaging. The proportion of follow-up time adherent to annual imaging was 0.39 (standard deviation = 0.42), and the proportion was 0.28 (standard deviation = 0.33) for biannual imaging; both proportions were higher in the specialty care group (all P < 0.05). Antiviral therapy (hazard ratio = 0.85, 95% confidence interval 0.76-0.95, P = 0.005) and liver imaging (hazard ratio = 0.84, 95% confidence interval 0.76-0.91, P < 0.001) were independently associated with decreased mortality in adjusted analyses.
Conclusion: We observed a low prevalence of recommended laboratory testing, antiviral therapy initiation, and liver imaging among a national cohort of veterans with hepatitis B infection; antiviral therapy and liver imaging were independently associated with decreased mortality. (Hepatology 2016;63:1774-1782).
© 2015 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.