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The experience of pain among patients living with Hepatitis C: an assessment of prevalence and needs


It is estimated that 300,000 individuals in Canada are infected with Hepatitis C (HCV). The pain experiences reported in relation to HCV appear to vary highly in both prevalence and source. Experiences of pain/pain treatment can be complicated by feelings of depression and poor sleep; whereby, pain can contribute to both depression and poorer sleep. This study will assess the prevalence and impact of pain among HCV patients from The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) including patient interest in various pain treatment options.


A questionnaire study was conducted among HCV patients seen at the Viral Hepatitis Clinic at TOH between June-December 2008. The questionnaire package contained: Socio-demographics, CES-Depression Scale, Sleep Impairment Index, and Pain Treatment Preferences.


128 HCV patients met eligibility criteria for the study; 91 (71%) completed the survey. 56% of HCV patients reported chronic pain which commonly affected their back, legs, and joints. A majority (91%) reported that they would feel comfortable telling their healthcare providers about their pain. HCV patients with pain expressed a preference for visiting their family doctor and HCV specialist for pain treatment; almost half (47%) were interested in group-based pain management. Also, HCV patients with chronic pain reported significantly poorer sleep and greater feelings of depression.


Overall, pain is a significant treatment concern in this sample of HCV patients. These results suggest that it may be important to consider incorporating pain assessment procedures into routine clinical care for HCV patients. The timely assessment/treatment of pain among HCV patients may also be facilitated by the development of standardized clinical tools and by providing information to healthcare workers on available options for treating chronic pain including non-pharmacological psycho-educational pain management.

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Correspondence to Christine Cabrera.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Cabrera, C., Corace, K., Balfour, L. et al. The experience of pain among patients living with Hepatitis C: an assessment of prevalence and needs. Retrovirology 7 (Suppl 1), P85 (2010).

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