Management of hepatitis C: A national survey of gastroenterologists and hepatologists

Authors

  • J E Everhart,

    1. Epidemiology and Clinical Trials Branch, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892-6600, USA
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  • M Stolar,

    1. Epidemiology and Clinical Trials Branch, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892-6600, USA
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  • J H Hoofnagle

    1. Epidemiology and Clinical Trials Branch, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892-6600, USA
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Abstract

A survey on the management of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was conducted by the American Digestive Health Foundation among United States physicians who are most familiar with the disease. The two-page survey was completed by 57% of a random sample of 2,500 members of the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Analysis was limited to the 1,249 responses from physicians who spent at least 1 day per week in patient care. These physicians frequently managed patients with HCV, and nearly three quarters treated patients with interferon. To prevent transmission, the large majority of physicians recommended measures to avoid blood exposures, were uncertain or disagreed about the importance of sexual contact, and did not caution patients about casual contact. More than 70% of physicians told their patients to stop or minimize alcohol consumption. In the management of a patient with antibody to HCV but normal serum aminotransferase activities, 87% of physicians would have ordered a supplemental test, and if HCV were confirmed, 46% would have obtained a liver biopsy, but only 15% would have treated the patient with interferon. For a patient with chronic HCV infection and elevated serum aminotransferase activities, more than 90% of physicians would have obtained a liver biopsy and approximately 60% would have treated with interferon. Physicians who are most familiar with the management of patients with HCV generally agreed with the recommendations of the Consensus Development Conference Panel regarding prevention of transmission, minimizing alcohol consumption, and managing patients with typical presentations. Controversies remain regarding some issues of general management, the value of molecular testing, and the need to treat certain patients with interferon.

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