Cirrhotic & healthy liver Significant Reductions in Drinking Following Brief Alcohol Treatment Provided in a Hepatitis C Clinic

BACKGROUND: Although the hepatitis C virus (HCV) alone increases the risk of cirrhosis, alcohol use is thought to act synergistically with HCV to significantly hasten the development of fibrosis.

OBJECTIVE: The authors assessed the impact of brief medical counseling or integrated-care approaches to lessen or eliminate alcohol use in these vulnerable patients.

METHOD: This retrospective study describes the effect of brief alcohol treatment delivered in a hepatitis clinic on drinking outcomes and antiviral treatment eligibility: 47 heavy-drinking chronic hepatitis C patients received a brief intervention performed by medical clinicians, with follow-up by a psychiatric nurse-specialist.

RESULTS: At the last follow-up, 62% of patients reported >50% drinking reduction; these included 36% who achieved abstinence. Only 6% of patients were excluded from antiviral therapy.

DISCUSSION: Brief treatment addressing heavy drinking delivered by hepatitis clinicians with psychiatric-specialist follow-up was associated with abstinence or a significant reduction in alcohol consumption in over 50% of patients.

Eric Dieperink, M.D., Samuel B. Ho, M.D., Sara Heit, M.S., R.N., C.N.S., Janet M. Durfee, R.N., M.S.N., APRN, Paul Thuras, Ph.D., and Mark L. Willenbring, M.D. Psychosomatics 51:149-156, March-April 2010