, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 213-219,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 24 Oct 2010

Formal Patient Education Improves Patient Knowledge of Hepatitis C in Vulnerable Populations

Abstract

Background

Hepatitis C (HCV) knowledge is limited in injection drug users (IDU). Vulnerable populations including IDUs are disproportionally affected by HCV. Effective HCV education can potentially reduce disparity in HCV prevalence and its outcome in this population.

Aim

This study aimed to assess the impact of formal HCV education and factors associated with improved HCV knowledge in the vulnerable population.

Methods

Over 18 months, 201 HCV-infected patients underwent a 2-h standardized education and completed demographic and pre- and post-education questionnaires.

Results

Patient characteristics were: 69% male, mean age 49 ± 10, 49% White (26% AA, 10% Latino), 75% unemployed, 83% high school education and above, 64% were IDU, and 7% were HIV co-infected. On multivariate analysis, baseline knowledge scores were higher in patients with at least a high school education (coef 7.1, p = 0.045). Baseline knowledge scores were lower in African Americans (coef −12.3, p = 0.004) and older patients (coef −0.7, p = 0.03). Following HCV education, the overall test scores improved significantly by 14% (p = 0.0001) specifically in the areas of HCV transmission (p = 0.003), general knowledge (p = 0.02), and health care maintenance (p = 0.004). There was a high compliance with liver specialty clinic attendance following education.

Conclusions

Formal HCV education is effective in improving HCV knowledge. Although White race, younger age, and higher education were predictors of having more HCV knowledge prior to education, all patients independent of racial background had a significant improvement in their knowledge after education. Therefore, promoting effective HCV education among vulnerable populations may be an important factor in reducing the disparities in HCV disease.