Hepatitis C prevalences in the psychiatric setting: Cost-effectiveness of scaling-up screening and direct-acting antiviral therapy

JHEP Rep. 2021 Mar 18;3(3):100279. doi: 10.1016/j.jhepr.2021.100279. eCollection 2021 Jun.


Background & aims: Patients hospitalised because of mental illness often have risk factors for contracting HCV. Scaling-up HCV screening for all psychiatric inpatients as a case-detection strategy for viral elimination is underexplored. This study aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of scaling-up HCV screening and treatment for psychiatry hospital admissions in Switzerland vs. the current standard-of-care risk-based approach, where only those with a history of substance misuse disorder are offered testing.

Methods: HCV prevalence by history of substance misuse disorder was analysed in medical records from inpatient admissions to a Swiss psychiatry department. Cost-effectiveness was analysed from a healthcare provider perspective through a decision-tree screening model, using these HCV prevalence data. Model and parameter uncertainty were assessed using deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses.

Results: Prevalence of HCV in psychiatry inpatients with a history of substance misuse disorder (n = 1,013) was 25.7%, compared with 3.5% among the remaining inpatients (n = 3,535). Scaling up HCV screening and treatment for all psychiatry admissions was cost-effective vs. the risk-based approach, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of US$9,188 per quality-adjusted life-year gained. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio remained cost-effective considering a HCV prevalence as low as 0.07%. The population-level net monetary benefit of the generalised screening approach was US$435,156,348, with 917 additional patients per year detected and treated at a cost of US$3,294 per person (vs. US$2,122 under risk-based screening).

Conclusions: Scaling up HCV screening and treatment at diagnosis with all-oral, interferon-free regimens as a generalised approach for psychiatric admissions was cost-effective and could support reaching World Health Organization targets for HCV elimination by 2030.

Lay summary: Patients hospitalised because of mental illness often have risk factors for HCV. We found that testing all psychiatry patients in hospital for HCV was cost-effective compared with testing only patients who have a history of substance misuse. Scaling up HCV testing and treatment could help to wipe out HCV.

Keywords: Cost-effectiveness model; DAA, direct-acting antiviral; Direct-acting antiviral agents; Hepatitis C infection; ICER, Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio; NMB, net monetary benefit; PMI, patients with mental illnesses; PSA, probabilistic sensitivity analysis; Psychiatric disorder; QALY, quality-adjusted life-year; Screening strategy; WTP, willingness-to-pay.