Limited impact of awareness-raising campaigns on hepatitis C testing practices among general practitioners

A. McLeod, B.L. Cullen, S.J. Hutchinson, K.M. Roy, J.F. Dillon, E.A. Stewart, D.J. Goldberg

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Abstract

The global hepatitis strategy calls for increased effort to diagnose those infected, with a target of 90% diagnosed by 2030. Scotland's Action Plan on Hepatitis C included awareness-raising campaigns, undertaken during 2008-2011, to promote testing by General Practitioners. We examined HCV testing practice among general practitioners before and following these campaigns. Scottish general practitioners were surveyed, using Dillman's method, in 2007 and 2013; response rates were 69% and 60%, respectively. Most respondents offer testing when presented with a risk history (86% in 2007, 88% in 2013) but only one fifth actively sought out risk factors (19 in 2007, 21% in 2013). Testing was reportedly always/almost always/usually offered to people who inject drugs (84% in 2007, 87% in 2013). Significant improvements in the offer of testing were reported in patients with abnormal LFTs (41% in 2007, 65% in 2013, p<0.001) and who had received medical/dental treatment in high prevalence countries (14% in 2007, 24% in 2013, p=0.001). In 2013, 25% of respondents had undertaken HCV-related Continued Professional Development. This group were significantly more likely to actively seek out risk factors (p=0.009) but only significantly more likely to offer a test to patients who had received medical/dental treatment in high prevalence countries (p=0.001). Our findings suggest that government-led awareness-raising campaigns have limited impact on general practitioners’ testing practices. If the majority of the HCV infected population are to be diagnosed, practitioner-based or physician-centred interventions should be considered alongside educational initiatives targeted at professional.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-954
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Viral Hepatitis
Volume24
Issue number11
Early online date14 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Keywords

  • hepatitis C testing
  • general practitioners
  • virology

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