They reported their results in the January 2002 issue of Gut.
In the retrospective observational study, all residents in Tayside, Scotland, in the period 1989-99 and registered on the Epidemiology of Liver Disease in Tayside (ELDIT) database were included.
Incidence and prevalence of known viral hepatitis in Tayside, as well as survival of subjects diagnosed with viral hepatitis, were measured.
In addition, health resource use, with respect to hospital admissions compared with the general population, was noted.
A total of 4992 patients with viral hepatitis were identified in the study period 1989-99. Of these, 86 were IgM positive anti-hepatitis A, 187 patients were hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive, and 469 were anti-hepatitis C (HCV) positive.
HCV and HBsAg seropositive patients were found to be more likely to be hospitalized and stay in hospital longer, and were less likely to survive after 6 years.
| Viral hepatitis increases health resource use compared to the general population.
Furthermore, HCV and HBsAg seropositive patients used more drugs of potential abuse than the general population.
The researchers found that there was an increase in cost per admission and per patient as a consequence of liver disease.
Author Doug T. Steinke, of the Medicines Monitoring Unit at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, said on behalf of his colleagues, "A record linkage population based study of viral hepatitis allows outcomes to be identified and costed.
"Those at risk of viral hepatitis infection in the Tayside population should be informed about the future implication to their health and costs to society."
"The health service should investigate the cost effectiveness of vaccination and opportunity costs to the health service of viral hepatitis, taking into consideration the increasing incidence and prevalence of disease," he concluded.