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Opioid clinic physicians report lack of competency in managing patients with HCV



A survey of clinicians who provide opioid agonist therapy (OAT) to people who inject drugs (PWID), showed several areas where self-reported competency in the management and treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) could be improved.

A binder label reads "Diagnosis: hepatitis" ©vchal/Thinkstock

The C-SCOPE study consisted of a self-administered survey among physicians practicing at clinics providing OAT in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States during April-May of 2017. Among 203 physicians – 40% in the United States, 45% in Europe, and 14% in Australia/Canada – 21% were addiction medicine specialists, and 29% were psychiatrists.

The majority reported that HCV testing (86%) and treatment (82%) among PWID were important.

The minority reported less than average competence with respect to regular screening (12%) and interpretation of HCV test results (14%), while greater proportions reported less than average competence in advising patients about new HCV therapies (28%), knowledge of new treatments (37%), and treatment/management of HCV (40%). Although a minority of participants self-reported average or less competency related to the ability to ensure regular screening for HCV (34%) and in the ability to interpret HCV test results (39%), more than half of the participants self-reported average or less competency in other areas. These areas included the ability to assess liver disease (52%), the ability to treat HCV and manage side effects (65%), and knowledge of new HCV treatments (64%). This trend was consistent with findings from previous studies among competency related to HCV infection among primary care providers, according to the authors (Int J Drug Policy. 2019;63:29-38).

“These low levels of reported competency in HCV management and treatment highlight a critical need for improved HCV education and training in how to manage and treat HCV among PWID,” the researchers concluded.

The authors reported grant funding and consultancy with a number of pharmaceutical companies. Funding was provided by Merck Sharp & Dohme and the Australian government.

SOURCE: Grebely J et al. Int J Drug Policy. 2019;63:29-38.

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