Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality.
Although recent advances in antiviral therapy have led to significant improvements in treatment response rates, only a minority of infected patients are treated.
Dr Christopher McGowan and colleagues reported that multiple barriers may impede the delivery of hepatitis C virus therapy.
The research team identified perceived barriers to care, knowledge, and opinions among a global sample of hepatitis C virus treatment providers.
An international, multidisciplinary survey of hepatitis C virus treatment providers was conducted.
The team of researchers found that each physician responded to a series of 214 questions concerning his or her practice characteristics, opinions regarding the state of hepatitis C virus care, knowledge regarding hepatitis C virus treatment, and perception of treatment barriers.
A total of 697 physicians from 29 countries completed the survey.
|Most of the surveyed physicians believed that patients do not have adequate access to providers |
Overall, physicians viewed patient-level barriers as most significant, including fear of side effects and concerns regarding treatment duration and cost.
The team of doctors noted distinct regional variations, with Central and Eastern European physicians citing government barriers as most important.
In Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, payer-level barriers, including lack of treatment coverage, were prominent.
The research team noted that overall, the perception of barriers was strongly associated with physician knowledge, experience, and region of origin, with the fewest barriers reported by Nordic physicians and the most reported by Middle Eastern and African physicians.
Globally, physicians demonstrated deficits in basic treatment principles, including the role of viral kinetics, and the management of treatment nonresponders.
The team observed that most of the surveyed physicians believed that patients do not have adequate access to providers in their community.
Dr Christopher's team concludes, "Barriers to hepatitis C virus treatment vary globally, though patient-level factors are viewed as most significant by treating physicians."
"Efforts to improve awareness, education, and specialist availability are needed."