BACKGROUND: The role of psycosocial factors in the disease progression of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to prospectively evaluate the prognostic value of behavioral patterns and the quality of life (QOL) of patients with CHC.
METHODS: Two hundred and forty Japanese CHC patients (mean age 62.4 years) were assessed for behavioral patterns (Stress Inventory), QOL (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual), and known prognostic factors at baseline then followed for a maximum of 8 years for disease progression, defined as either the first diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or hepatitis-related death.
RESULTS: Forty-nine events occurred during the study period (46 newly diagnosed HCC cases, three hepatitis-related deaths). In a Cox proportional hazard model including known prognostic factors and treatment-related factors as time-dependent variables, behavioral patterns associated with inhibition of emotional needs (hazard ratio (HR): 1.35; 95 % confidence interval (CI): 1.02-1.77; p = 0.036) and QOL, representing emotional wellbeing (HR 0.60; 95 % CI 0.37-0.98; p = 0.041), were each associated with the risk of disease progression.
CONCLUSION: Psychosocial factors such as behavioral patterns relevant to the inhibition of emotional needs and emotional wellbeing independently affect the clinical course of patients with CHC.