Limited impact of awareness-raising campaigns on hepatitis C testing practices among general practitioners

J Viral Hepat. 2017 Nov;24(11):944-954. doi: 10.1111/jvh.12724. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


The global hepatitis strategy calls for increased effort to diagnose those infected, with a target of 90% diagnosed by 2030. Scotland's Action Plan on Hepatitis C included awareness-raising campaigns, undertaken during 2008-2011, to promote testing by general practitioners. We examined hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing practice among general practitioners before and following these campaigns. Scottish general practitioners were surveyed, using Dillman's method, in 2007 and 2013; response rates were 69% and 60%, respectively. Most respondents offer testing when presented with a risk history (86% in 2007, 88% in 2013) but only one-fifth actively sought out risk factors (19% in 2007, 21% in 2013). Testing was reportedly always/almost always/usually offered to people who inject drugs (84% in 2007, 87% in 2013). Significant improvements in the offer of testing were reported in patients with abnormal LFTs (41% in 2007, 65% in 2013, P<.001) and who had received medical/dental treatment in high prevalence countries (14% in 2007, 24% in 2013, P=.001). In 2013, 25% of respondents had undertaken HCV-related continued professional development. This group was significantly more likely to actively seek out risk factors (P=.009) but only significantly more likely to offer a test to patients who had received medical/dental treatment in high prevalence countries (P=.001). Our findings suggest that government-led awareness raising campaigns have limited impact on general practitioners' testing practices. If the majority of the HCV-infected population are to be diagnosed, practitioner-based or physician-centred interventions should be considered alongside educational initiatives targeted at professionals.

Keywords: awareness raising; general practice; hepatitis C; survey; testing.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • General Practitioners*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hepacivirus*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C / therapy
  • Humans
  • National Health Programs*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care