, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 214-223
Date: 05 Nov 2013

Voices of Multi-ethnic Providers in NYC: Health Care for Viral Hepatitis to Prevent Hepatocellular Carcinoma

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Worldwide, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third leading cause of cancer deaths and the ninth in the US. Hepatitis B and C make up almost 80 % of HCC cases. Based on our Hepatitis Outreach Network screening program data, approximately 40 % of at-risk foreign-born community members who tested positive for viral hepatitis B and/or C did not follow up for additional care. Our aim was to use theory-driven qualitative research to identify barriers and facilitators to follow-up after viral hepatitis diagnosis among these community members from the viewpoint of primary care providers (PCPs). As viral hepatitis is a precursor of liver cancer, timely treatment of the virus has the potential to reduce the incidence and burden of liver cancer. We performed semi-structured key informant interviews with 20 primary care physicians who predominantly serve Korean, Chinese, Egyptian, and Russian communities. Barriers detected included cultural factors commonly seen amongst immigrant populations such as busy work schedules and non-English language. Common facilitators include increased primary care physician involvement and linkages to care within communities in which patients reside. Providers perceived that they are gatekeepers to specialty care for their patients and therefore key persons to engage in viral hepatitis evaluation and management by specialists. This initial study suggests that re-focusing energy into primary care physicians might offer promise for improved care for individuals from immigrant communities who have viral hepatitis to help them engage in care and thereby reduce the burden of liver cancer.