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Physical, mental, and social problems high with Hep C antivirals

The latest issue of the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology shows high adverse effects with antiviral therapy in patients with Hep C, that worsen their private and professional relationships, and impact on adherence.

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The Hepatitis C virus can be successfully treated in up to 60% of infected patients.

However, treatment is long and is associated with significant side-effects.

Dr Susan Zickmund investigated difficulties with this treatment as it is an important factor in patient adherence.

The investigative team enrolled patients receiving Hepatitis C treatment in a tertiary referral center in a cross-sectional study.

The team collected demographic data, functional and emotional status, and co-morbidities from patients or from the medical records.

All participants underwent a semistructured interview, which was analyzed by blinded coders.

A total of 65 patients with a mean age of 46 years, of which 39% were women, were enrolled.

80% described moderate to severe problems attributed to treatment
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

The team found that 80% described moderate to severe problems attributed to treatment.

There was a predominance of physical difficulties, including fatigue in 74% of cases, and flu-like symptoms in 32%.

The investigators observed that 38% of patients experienced depression during treatment.

In 31% of cases, physical or emotional problems forced patients to quit their jobs or reduce employment.

The team noted that a fifth of patients attributed deteriorating relationships with friends and family to adverse treatment effects.

Necessary lifestyle adjustments, such as alcohol abstinence, caused frictions with friends in 22% of the participants.

Dr Zickmund's team concluded, “Our findings show a high prevalence of significant adverse effects in patients undergoing antiviral therapy.”

“Whereas the nature and severity of these adverse reactions is consistent with earlier reports, we identified implications with worsening private and professional relationships.”

“To encourage appropriate levels of adherence, healthcare providers should seek information about these indirect treatment effects as they monitor their patients on therapy.”

Eur J Gastroenterol & Hepatol 2006: 18(4): 381
23 March 2006

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