J Subst Abuse Treat 2020 02 6;109:23-33. Epub 2019 Nov 6.
Temple University, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Risk Communication Laboratory, College of Public Health, Ritter Annex, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a highly prevalent infection in current and former IV drug users. Current estimates indicate that over 70% of those in methadone maintenance treatment programs (MMTs) have HCV, but only 11% have initiated treatments despite availability of new treatments that are easily tolerated and can cure infection in about 8 weeks. We conducted a pilot randomized trial at four Philadelphia, PA MMTs to test acceptability, feasibility and promise of efficacy of our "Take Charge, Get Cured" mobile health (mHealth) treatment decision tool, developed through extensive formative work that included methadone patients' input and targeted directly to concerns of methadone patients with Hepatitis C (HCV). We compared its impact on perceptions and knowledge about HCV and HCV treatment, decisional conflict, intention to and actual initiation of HCV care to a web-based Cochrane-reviewed, non-targeted HCV decision tool. Subjects (n = 122) were randomized, administered baseline questionnaires, interacted with the targeted or non-targeted decision tool on an electronic tablet, and answered post-test questions. After 3-months subjects (n = 93; 76%) were surveyed for follow up. "Take Charge, Get Cured" users were more likely to report the tool helped with decision making and demonstrated greater improvement in knowledge, decisional conflict, and intention to be treated for their HCV infections than users of the non-targeted decision tool. They were significantly more likely to say the targeted tool was helpful and that they would recommend it to others. At three month follow up, targeted group participants were more likely to say the tool helped them make a better decision about treatment and prepared them to talk to their doctor about what matters most to them about treatment. No differences were seen in actions to initiate HCV care, but more targeted group participants reported talking to their doctors about HCV treatment. Results indicate a highly targeted mHealth decision tool is an important strategy to affect perceptions and knowledge of HCV treatment that lowers decisional conflict about initiating treatment, key components in decision making. We believe this highly acceptable and feasible intervention could be utilized in clinical settings to address the important barriers to initiating HCV treatment in a vulnerable population.