Journal Article

Addressing Tri-Morbidity (Hepatitis C, Psychiatric Disorders, and Substance Use): The Importance of Routine Mental Health Screening as a Component of a Comanagement Model of Care

Marian Fireman, David W. Indest, Aaron Blackwell, Ashlee J. Whitehead and Peter Hauser

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 40, issue Supplement_5, pages S286-S291
Published in print April 2005 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online April 2005 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/427442
Addressing Tri-Morbidity (Hepatitis C, Psychiatric Disorders, and Substance Use): The Importance of Routine Mental Health Screening as a Component of a Comanagement Model of Care

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Background. Recent studies suggest that most patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection commonly present to medical clinics with active psychiatric and substance use disorders. However, routine screening for these disorders is generally not done.

Objectives. The purpose of our study was to assess prospectively the frequency of psychiatric and substance use disorders in patients presenting for initial assessment of a positive HCV antibody test result.

Methods. A sample of 293 patients represented the majority of patients scheduled for their initial hepatology clinic visit at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center between September 2002 and September 2003. The patient screening questionnaire, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C), and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) were administered to all patients.

Results. At screening, 93% of the patients had a current or past history of at least 1 psychiatric disorder, and 73% had ⩾2 disorders. The most common disorders included depression (81%), posttraumatic stress disorder (62%), any substance use disorder (58%), bipolar disorder (20%), and other psychotic disorders (17%). One hundred two patients (35%) had baseline BDI-II scores in the moderate-to-severe range of depression (>19), and 61 (21%) had AUDIT-C scores indicating current heavy alcohol use (⩾4).

Conclusions. Psychiatric and substance use disorders are highly prevalent among veterans with chronic hepatitis C. Thirty-five percent have significant symptoms of depression before the initiation of treatment with interferon (IFN). Routine screening for underlying psychiatric and substance use disorders and early treatment intervention before initiating antiviral therapy is essential to prevent worsening of depression and to optimize the outcome of treatment with IFN. Comanagement treatment models involving mental health care may expand the pool of patients eligible to receive treatment with IFN, as well as enhance treatment outcomes.

Journal Article.  3948 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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