For those infected with Hepatitis C (HCV), alcohol use has a direct negative impact on the liver, increasing the risk and progression of liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, which can lead to liver failure and death. Few studies have systematically examined effective approaches to address co-occurring HCV and alcohol use. Integrated Behavioral Health-Medical models have demonstrated decreases in alcohol use in primary care settings, but have rarely been tested in HCV specialty care settings. Data on integrated models for African American patients with HCV are lacking. Medical providers need data on effective treatments for the spectrum of problem drinking with which their HCV-infected patients present.
Principal Investigator, Andrew Muir, MD, MHS, and Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, PhD were awarded R21 funding from the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to test the feasibility of implementing an integrated treatment model among persons with HCV and problem drinking ranging from hazardous consumption to harmful alcohol use. They examined a) the feasibility of adapting an integrated intervention designed for alcohol-using HIV populations to an HCV population; b) the impact of this intervention on participation in alcohol treatment, changes in alcohol use, and participation in HCV medical care; and c) the factors associated with outcomes in this sample.
Sixty participants were enrolled in the Integrated Alcohol-HCV treatment model provided at an HCV medical clinic. Outcome variables were assessed pre-, during, and post-intervention. The results from the study, including a 44% alcohol abstinence rate, indicated success. An R01 proposal to employ a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) design to test the integrated model’s effectiveness was submitted in June 2011.