Hepatitis C Treatment Cascade in a Federally Qualified Health Center
Hepatitis C (HCV) care cascades have been described in diverse clinical settings, patient populations and countries, highlighting the steps in HCV care where improvements can be made and resources allocated. However, more research is needed to examine barriers to HCV treatment in rural, underserved populations and in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). As part of a quality improvement (QI) project, this study aimed to describe and evaluate the HCV treatment cascade in an FQHC serving a large rural patient population in the Western United States. Standardized chart abstraction was utilized to aggregate data regarding patient demographics, the percentage of patients achieving each step in the treatment cascade, and relevant patient (i.e., viral load) and service variables (i.e., whether and when patients received treatment or medication). 389 patients were identified as having HCV and 86% were aware of their diagnosis. Fifty-five percent had their infection confirmed via viral load, 21% were staged for liver disease, 24% received a prescription for treatment, and 19% achieved cure. Compared to national data, the current regional sample had greater rates of diagnosis awareness and access to care, as well as sustained virologic response (SVR), but lower rates of viral load confirmation. Current findings suggest that rural patients living with HCV who receive care at FQHCs struggle to navigate the treatment cascade and achieve a cure, particularly with regard to infection confirmation, liver staging, and prescription. However, compared to national estimates, patients had greater rates of diagnosis awareness/treatment access and SVR.
KeywordsHepatitis C Care cascade Federally Qualified Health Center Rural health Quality improvement
This study did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no relevant conflicts of interest or financial relationships.
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