Viral hepatitis testing and treatment in community pharmacies: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Mark J. Hayes (Lead / Corresponding author), Emma Beavon, Michael W. Traeger, John F. Dillon, Andrew Radley, Suzanne Nielsen, Christopher J. Byrne, Jacqui Richmond, Peter Higgs, Margaret E. Hellard, Joseph S. Doyle (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    1 Citation (Scopus)
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    Background: The World Health Organization seeks to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. This review and meta-analysis aims to evaluate the effectiveness of programs for hepatitis B and C testing and treatment in community pharmacies.

    Methods: Medline, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, and Global Health were searched from database inception until 12 November 2023. Comparative and single arm intervention studies were eligible for inclusion if they assessed delivery of any of the following interventions for hepatitis B or C in pharmacies: (1) pre-testing risk assessment, (2) testing, (3) pre-treatment assessment or (4) treatment. Primary outcomes were proportions testing positive and reaching each stage in the cascade. Random effects meta-analysis was used to estimate pooled proportions stratified by recruitment strategy and setting where possible; other results were synthesised narratively. This study was pre-registered (PROSPERO: CRD42022324218).

    Findings: Twenty-seven studies (4 comparative, 23 single arm) were included, of which 26 reported hepatitis C outcomes and four reported hepatitis B outcomes. History of injecting drug use was the most identified risk factor from pre-testing risk assessments. The pooled proportion hepatitis C antibody positive from of 19 studies testing 5096 participants was 16.6% (95% CI 11.0%–23.0%; heterogeneity I 2 = 96.6%). The pooled proportion antibody positive was significantly higher when testing targeted people with specified risk factors (32.5%, 95% CI 24.8%–40.6%; heterogeneity I 2 = 82.4%) compared with non-targeted or other recruitment methods 4.0% (95% CI 2.1%–6.5%; heterogeneity I 2 = 83.5%). Meta-analysis of 14 studies with 813 participants eligible for pre-treatment assessment showed pooled attendance rates were significantly higher in pharmacies (92.7%, 95% CI 79.1%–99.9%; heterogeneity I 2 = 72.4%) compared with referral to non-pharmacy settings (53.5%, 95% CI 36.5%–70.1%; heterogeneity I 2 = 92.3%). The pooled proportion initiating treatment was 85.6% (95% CI 74.8%–94.3%; heterogeneity I 2 = 75.1%). This did not differ significantly between pharmacy and non-pharmacy settings.

    Interpretation: These findings add pharmacies to the growing evidence supporting community-based testing and treatment for hepatitis C. Few comparative studies and high degrees of statistical heterogeneity were important limitations. Hepatitis B care in pharmacies presents an opportunity for future research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number102489
    Number of pages14
    Early online date27 Feb 2024
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


    • Community pharmacy
    • Hepatitis B
    • Hepatitis C
    • Testing
    • Treatment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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