Mixed-methods evaluation of point-of-care hepatitis C virus RNA testing in a Scottish prison

Christopher J. Byrne (Lead / Corresponding author), Amy Malaguti, Sarah Karen Inglis, John F. Dillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) poses a global public health threat. Prisons are a focus of prevention efforts due to high infection burdens. Expedition of treatment for incarcerated people is critical, as many are short- term sentenced. We evaluated point- of- care (PoC) HCV RNA testing in a maximum- security Scottish prison and assessed its impact on transition to treatment. We also evaluated costs and determinants of implementation.

Design: Mixed- methods evaluation of a single- centre care pathway pilot using National Health Service (NHS) data from 2018 to 2021. Descriptive statistics and survival analysis were undertaken. Cost analysis was assessed from a provider perspective. Healthcare staff participated in semistructured interviews and thematic analysis with a deductive approach was undertaken to identify implementation determinants.

Setting: A large maximum- security Scottish prison health centre administered by the NHS.

Participants: 296 incarcerated NHS patients (all men) and six NHS staff members (two men and four women).

Interventions: HCV testing using the Cepheid GeneXpert platform with Xpert HCV VL Fingerstick assay.

Outcome measures: The main outcome was survival (in days) from HCV test to treatment initiation. Secondary outcomes were cost- per- cure obtained and implementation determinants.

Results: During the pilot, 167 Xpert tests were administered, with an 84% completion rate, and treatment transition was superior for those who received it (p=0.014). Where PoC tests were administered, shorter survival to treatment was observed (19 vs 33 days: adjusted HR (aHR) 1.91 (1.03–3.55), p=0.040; 19 vs 50 days; aHR 3.76 (1.67–8.46), p=0.001). PoC was costlier than conventional testing. In qualitative analysis, most facilitators were observed among characteristics of individual domain while most barriers were noted in the inner setting.

Conclusions: Integrating PoC HCV RNA diagnosis into nurse- led HCV care in a maximum- security prison health centre shortens survival to HCV treatment. However, there are cost implications to this approach and multiple determinants that impact on implementation should be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere068604
Number of pages12
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2023


  • Hepatology
  • Organisation of health services
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Mixed-methods evaluation of point-of-care hepatitis C virus RNA testing in a Scottish prison'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this