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Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) diminishes health related quality of life (HRQOL), and it is now common to measure HRQOL in clinical trials. We sought to summarize the HRQOL data in HCV, and to establish the minimally clinically important difference (MCID) in HRQOL scores in HCV. We performed a systematic review to identify relevant studies, and converted HRQOL data from each study into clinically interpretable statistics. An expert panel used a modified Delphi technique to estimate the MCID in HCV. We found that patients with HCV scored lower than controls across all scales of the SF-36. Patients achieving sustained virological response (SVR) scored higher across all scales versus patients without SVR, especially in the physical health domains. HRQOL differences did not correspond with differences in liver histology or ALT levels. Based upon the published data, the expert panel concluded that the SF-36 vitality scale was most relevant in patients with HCV, and generated a mean MCID of 4.2 points on this scale. In conclusion, patients with HCV have a clinically significant decrement in HRQOL versus controls, and physical HRQOL improves in patients achieving SVR but not in those without SVR. The data further suggest that traditional outcomes fail to capture the full spectrum of illness related to chronic HCV. A difference of 4.2 points on the SF-36 vitality scale can be used as an estimate of the MCID in HCV, and this value may be used as the basis for power calculations in clinical trials evaluating HRQOL. Supplementary material for this article can be found on the HEPATOLOGY website (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/jpages/0270-9139/suppmat/index.html). (HEPATOLOGY 2005;41:790–800.)