Results from a research study titled “Depression rather than liver impairment reduces quality of life in patients with hepatitis C,” show that in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), the psychological effects of the disease deserve more attention and that the implementation of integrated medical, psychiatric, and psychological care may be helpful. The study is published in the current issue of the Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria.
Approximately 170 million individuals are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) worldwide. The condition causes chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and is responsible for more than 475,000 deaths per year.
Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) is one measurable dimension of a broader quality of life score that is more directly related to health, and it focuses on the patient’s subjective evaluation of well-being, individual experiences, and values regarding the process of being sick.
Although HRQOL is variably impaired in cirrhotic patients, the results of studies evaluating the impact of the degree of liver fibrosis on HRQOL are still controversial.
Eliane D. Gontijo and her colleagues investigated the impact of CHC on HRQOL by conducting clinical, psychiatric, and sociodemographic evaluations. The researchers assessed psychological impairments in a total of 124 patients that attended a referral center for hepatitis. All patients were assessed for neuropsychiatric disturbances, depression, anxiety and quality of life using four different testing methods.
Using multiple linear regressions, the results revealed a reduction in the HRQOL score that was related to major depressive disorder and increased levels of alanine aminotransferase. However, it was not associated with hepatic cirrhosis.
Based on the results, the researchers suggest that major depressive disorder rather than the grade of liver fibrosis is related to impairments in HRQOL in patients with chronic hepatitis C. According to the researchers, these new findings emphasize the fact that for patients with CHC, there is a need for clinicians to pay more attention to associated psychological impairments.