Title

Evaluation of the Western Australian Regional Nurse-supported Hepatitis C Shared Care Program

Abstract

Introduction: The Regional Nurse-supported Hepatitis C Shared Care Program aims to improve access and treatment outcomes via hepatitis C nurses that coordinate patient care in the Kimberley, Great Southern and South West regions of Western Australia. The program had not been evaluated across the three regions since its establishment in 2003.

Methods: A desktop review was conducted of relevant documents and reports. Hepatitis C nurses invited current patients (n=46) to complete a short written survey about their treatment experiences. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 11 health staff involved in program delivery.

Results: The desktop review identified no single best practice model for hepatitis C shared care. Twenty two (48%) patient surveys were returned; all respondents were non-Aboriginal and mainly male (65%). Most (65%) respondents reported high satisfaction with the program overall, with the same proportion indicating satisfaction with the level of support received, mainly from the hepatitis C nurse, while on treatment. Health staff identified shorter waiting times, longer appointment times, reduced patient transport costs to tertiary centres and increased patient compliance as key benefits of the program. Tertiary clinics provided accessible and acceptable advice and support for complex cases via telehealth. Challenges included scheduling treatment based on capacity of regional health staff to support patients and few incentives for general practitioners to undertake shared care. Conclusions: Health staff and patients value the improvement in service access and health outcomes provided by a nurse-supported shared care model. Barriers to accessing treatment for Aboriginal patients need to be investigated further.

Keywords

Hepatitis C, health care programs, Regional Western Australia

Comments

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