Psychosocial interventions for patients with chronic hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection are needed to attenuate the impact of extrahepatic symptoms, comorbid conditions, and treatment side effects on HCV health outcomes. We adapted empirically-supported interventions for similar patient populations to develop a Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills group intervention for HCV patients (CBCS-HCV) undergoing treatment. The objectives of this paper are to describe the research activities associated with CBCS-HCV development and pilot testing, including: (1) formative work leading to intervention development; (2) preliminary study protocol; and (3) pilot feasibility testing of the intervention and study design. Formative work included a literature review, qualitative interviews, and adaption, development, and review of study materials. A preliminary study protocol is described. We evaluate the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the CBCS-HCV with 12 study participants in Wave 1 testing to examine: (a) feasibility of intervention delivery; (b) patient acceptability; (c) recruitment, enrollment, retention; (d) feasibility of conducting a RCT; (d) therapist protocol fidelity; and (e) feasibility of data collection. Numerous lessons were learned. We found very high rates of data collection, participant attendance, engagement, retention and acceptability, and therapist protocol fidelity. We conclude that many aspects of the CBCS-HCV intervention and study protocol were highly feasible. The greatest challenge during this Wave 1 pilot study was efficiency of participant enrollment due to changes in standard of care treatment. These findings informed two additional waves of pilot testing to examine effect sizes and potential improvements in clinical outcomes, with results forthcoming.
Keywords: Liver; direct acting antiviral (DAA); lifestyle; psychological; psychosocial; stress; treatment.