Relationship of health-related quality of life to treatment adherence and sustained response in chronic hepatitis C patients



Interferon therapy may exacerbate health-related quality of life (HRQL) deficits associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) early in the course of therapy. Treatment with polyethylene glycol–modified interferon (peginterferon) alfa-2a (40 kd) provides improved sustained response over interferon alfa-2a, but its effect on HRQL is unknown. The objective of this study was to (1) evaluate the effect of sustained virologic response on HRQL in patients with HCV and (2) determine whether impairment of HRQL during treatment contributes to early treatment discontinuation. Data consisted of a pooled secondary analysis of patients (n = 1,441) across 3 international, multicenter, open-label, randomized studies that compared peginterferon alfa-2a (40 kd) with interferon alfa-2a. ANCOVA was used to examine the effect of sustained virologic response on HRQL. Repeated-measures mixed-models ANCOVA was used to compare Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and SF-36 scores during treatment by treatment group. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between changes at baseline in on-treatment HRQL and early treatment discontinuation. Sustained virologic response was associated with marked improvements from baseline to end of follow-up in all subjects, including patients with cirrhosis. During treatment, patients receiving peginterferon alfa-2a (40 kd) had statistically significantly better scores on both the SF-36 and FSS. Baseline to 24-week changes in fatigue and SF-36 mental and physical summary scores significantly predicted treatment discontinuation. In conclusion, sustained virologic response is associated with improvements in quality of life in patients with or without advanced liver disease. This parameter may be an important consideration in maximizing treatment adherence.