Financial Incentives for Adherence to Hepatitis C Virus Clinical Care and Treatment: A Randomized Trial of Two Strategies

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2017 May 5;4(2):ofx095. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofx095. eCollection Spring 2017.


Background: Although rates of sustained virologic response (SVR) after hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) surpass 90% in trials and some more "real world" settings, some patients, such as those with substance use disorders, will be challenged to adhere to HCV care.

Methods: To assess the feasibility of 2 strategies for financially incentivizing adherence to HCV care, patients with a substance use history prescribed 12 weeks of a sofosbuvir-containing regimen were randomized to either fixed or lottery-based monetary incentives for attending clinic appointments, pill count adherence >90%, and SVR achievement. Electronic medication monitoring provided an objective measure of DAA adherence.

Results: Fifty-nine participants were randomized to the lottery (n = 31) or fixed-incentive (n = 28) arms. All 31 (100%) in the lottery arm and 24 of 28 (86%) in the fixed arm completed 12 weeks of therapy. By intent-to-treat, 93% in the lottery arm and 92% in the fixed arm achieved SVR (estimated difference: 0.5%; 95% confidence interval, -17.5 to 18.8). Overall, 92% of scheduled visits were attended without significant differences between arms. The mean adherence ratio (days with ≥1 bottle opening:monitored days) was 0.91 for lottery and 0.92 for fixed arms.

Conclusions: In this pilot, fixed- and lottery-based financial incentives were successfully implemented and accepted by patients with a substance use history. High levels of HCV therapy and care adherence, as well as rates of SVR, were observed. Financial incentives may be useful to support treatment adherence in patients with substance use disorders and should be tested in a larger, randomized, controlled trial.

Keywords: HCV; adherence; direct-acting agents; financial incentives; substance use..