The psychiatric side effects of interferon, often responsible for dose reduction or treatment discontinuation, represent a major limitation in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC).
To prospectively assess the impact on adherence and sustained virological response (SVR) of the occurrence of psychiatric side effects during peginterferon and ribavirin therapy for CHC.
Ninety-eight consecutive treatment-naïve CHC patients receiving a standard course of peginterferon plus ribavirin were systematically screened for psychiatric side effects, using DSM-IV, at baseline and both during and after treatment.
Psychiatric side effects occurred in 38 patients (39%), mostly within the first 12 weeks (87%), and always consisted of mood disorders. Overall, 68% of patients achieved an SVR (71% of patients with mood disorders and 68% of those without; P = N.S.). Peginterferon and ribavirin dose reductions did not differ between patients with mood disorders and those without (46% vs. 37%, respectively; P = N.S. and 13% vs. 22%, respectively; P = N.S.). Anti-viral therapy had to be discontinued in four patients (nonresponse: two, hyperthyroidism: one, psychiatric event: one).
Early detection and appropriate management of psychiatric side effects during peginterferon and ribavirin therapy for CHC allow optimizing adherence and virological efficacy.