Occurrence and Knowledge of Hepatitis C in High-Risk Patients Seeking Wound Care

Barbara Pieper, PhD, RN, CWOCN, ACNS-BC, FAAN, College of Nursing Wayne State University, Detroit, MI and Katharine Sickon, Student, College of Nursing, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Purpose: Affecting about 3.2 million people in the US, hepatitis C (HCV) is the primary cause of chronic liver disease and a global health challenge. HCV can affect the functioning of the liver, the health of the person, and thus wound healing. Baby boomers are five times more likely to have HCV than other adults. As aging adults, they are also at risk for or have wounds. The purpose of this project was to examine: (a) the occurrence of HCV in high-risk patients seeking wound care and (b) their knowledge of it.

Methodology: This quality project used a cross-sectional, descriptive design. The questionnaire included demographic and health information, HCV history, and a 22 item true-false-don’t know HCV knowledge test. From June to September 2016, patients who were seeking wound care at an urban clinic and able understand and respond were read the instrument. The questionnaire took 5-10 minutes to complete.

Statistics: Descriptive and inferential statistics were used.

Results: Data were obtained from 58 patients (M age=61.07, 41 men, 51 were African-American, and 38 were persons who injected drugs). Thirty-nine (67.2%) had been tested for HCV; 31 were told they were HCV+; 61.3% were sent to a specialty clinic for further care. The mean number correct on the HCV knowledge test was 14.4 (SD=5.7; range 0 to 22); the mean percentage correct grade was 67.4% (SD=25.9%). Patients who stated they had HCV (M=17.6) had significantly higher knowledge scores than those that did not know or were negative (M=11.6), t(56)=4.66, p<.001.

Conclusions: Patients high risk for HCV and seeking wound care may have been missed in terms of HCV testing and referral for care. HCV knowledge was low. As a major public health problem, wound care practitioners can ask patients about HCV, encourage HCV testing and care, and provide HCV information.