Persons infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) often face a multitude of barriers that prevent access to care. Social workers (SW) are highly trained in the identification and resolution of barriers that may interfere with HCV management. A social work intervention model within the HCV care cascade has been established to address barriers that affect access to medical care.
Enhanced social work interventions were implemented for patients seeking care for chronic HCV as a part of the HepC Linkage to Care Navigation Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC), including: engaging and building rapport with patients prior to the first HCV appointment; comprehensively assessing a biopsychosocial history that identifies barriers, insurance and social needs for HCV care which is entered into the electronic health record; implementation of support groups; evaluating barriers and rescheduling patients after missed HCV clinic appointments.
Since January 2014, 125 patients have been assessed. The top three barriers include: lack of resources, insurance complications, and inadequate social support structure. HCV support groups, education, direct access and team involvement encourage patients to express concerns and ask questions to MWHC staff pertinent to their medical care. Patients have expressed satisfaction with the interpersonal interactions of the team regarding the biopsychosocial assessment and calls.
Patient centered, coordinated care approaches have been beneficial to treatment and facilitate productive interactions, health literacy and self-determination. Though no statistical conclusions can be drawn, patients have reported common themes identifying barriers to HCV care, have expressed satisfaction with the delivery of services, and appear more empowered to advocate for their medical care. More research is needed to formulate a formal model of care that social workers could apply when working with HCV infected individuals.
T. Cha, None
A. Ayodele, None
I. Perez, None
D. Fishbein, None