Researchers from Michigan, USA, determined the knowledge base and practice patterns of a nationwide cohort of primary care physicians (PCPs) regarding hepatitis C.
A survey was developed to assess the knowledge of PCPs regarding risk factors for hepatitis C, management of hepatitis C patients, and attitude regarding testing for hepatitis C.
The survey was mailed to 4000 PCPs in the USA. A total of 1412 (39%) PCPs completed the survey.
More than 90% of PCPs correctly identified the most common risk factors for hepatitis C.
|PCPs and hepatitis C trends:|
90% correctly identified risk factors.
59% asked all patients about risk factors.
70% tested all with HCV risk factors.
78% tested all with elevated HCV liver enzymes.
25% did not know what treatment to recommend.
|Journal of Viral Hepatitis|
However, only 59% indicated they ask all patients about hepatitis C risk factors.
70% reported they test all patients with hepatitis C risk factors and 78% test all patients with elevated liver enzymes for hepatitis C.
Most (72%) PCPs would refer an HCV-positive patient with elevated aminotransferase. However, only 28% would refer an HCV-positive patient with normal aminotransferase to a specialist.
A quarter of the PCPs did not know what treatment to recommend for hepatitis C patients.
Dr Shebab, of the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, said on behalf of fellow colleagues, "Our data suggest that hepatitis C patients may be under-diagnosed and under-referred."
"Specific educational initiatives and practice guidelines for PCPs are needed to optimize the recognition of patients at risk for hepatitis C and to ensure appropriate testing and referral," it was concluded.