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J Viral Hepat. 2017 Nov;24(11):944-954. doi: 10.1111/jvh.12724. Epub 2017 Jun 9.

Limited impact of awareness-raising campaigns on hepatitis C testing practices among general practitioners.

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Health Protection Scotland, Glasgow, UK.
School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK.
NHS Tayside and Medical Research Institute, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK.
Department of Public Health, NHS Lothian and Bonnyrigg Health Centre, Edinburgh, UK.


The global hepatitis strategy calls for increased effort to diagnose those infected, with a target of 90% diagnosed by 2030. Scotland's Action Plan on Hepatitis C included awareness-raising campaigns, undertaken during 2008-2011, to promote testing by general practitioners. We examined hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing practice among general practitioners before and following these campaigns. Scottish general practitioners were surveyed, using Dillman's method, in 2007 and 2013; response rates were 69% and 60%, respectively. Most respondents offer testing when presented with a risk history (86% in 2007, 88% in 2013) but only one-fifth actively sought out risk factors (19% in 2007, 21% in 2013). Testing was reportedly always/almost always/usually offered to people who inject drugs (84% in 2007, 87% in 2013). Significant improvements in the offer of testing were reported in patients with abnormal LFTs (41% in 2007, 65% in 2013, P<.001) and who had received medical/dental treatment in high prevalence countries (14% in 2007, 24% in 2013, P=.001). In 2013, 25% of respondents had undertaken HCV-related continued professional development. This group was significantly more likely to actively seek out risk factors (P=.009) but only significantly more likely to offer a test to patients who had received medical/dental treatment in high prevalence countries (P=.001). Our findings suggest that government-led awareness raising campaigns have limited impact on general practitioners' testing practices. If the majority of the HCV-infected population are to be diagnosed, practitioner-based or physician-centred interventions should be considered alongside educational initiatives targeted at professionals.


awareness raising; general practice; hepatitis C; survey; testing

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