The evolution of technology in healthcare has increased the health care’s costs and, the universal healthcare systems, in developed countries, need to ensure proper allocation of resources. Thus, the major issue is assessing the effectiveness of new medical technologies. The evaluation of quality of life in response to new treatments has become a key indicator in chronic conditions for which medical interventions are evaluated not only in terms of increasing the number of expected life years but also in terms of increasing quality of life. The aim of this observational study was to verify whether a simple instrument (EQ-5D-5 L) can capture variations in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and allow us to evaluate the impact of different drug treatment protocols in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) on daily activities.
Sixty six patients with HCV were consecutively enrolled in the Hepatology Unit at the University Hospital of Catania “G. Rodolico”. Sixteen patients received new direct-acting-antiviral agents (DAAs) plus pegylated alpha interferon (Peg-α-IFN) protocol (Group A) and 50 DAAs IFN free protocol (Group B).
The EQ-5D-5 L® questionnaire and visual analog scale (VAS) were given to both groups to calculate coefficient’s utility. We used the EQ-5D-5 L Crosswalk Index Value Calculator to obtain the utility EQIndex and both parametric and non parametric tests for the statistical analysis.
The biopsy taken at the beginning of treatment showed comparable cell damage in both groups. The difference in the VAS results was negative for patients who received protocols containing IFN (indicating decreased quality of life),whereas it was positive in patients treated with IFN-free protocols. The baseline EQIndex did not reveal any differences between the two treatment groups. The post-treatment EQIndex was statistically better in the groups that received IFN-free therapy.
When innovative treatments are introduced into clinical practice, assessing quality of life is mandatory to determine their benefits. The instruments used in the present study are effective in detecting the areas in which improvement has occurred. These instruments can be easily managed by general practitioners for follow up of progression of the disease and referred to the specialist.