Issue: 2019 > July > original article

Retrieval of chronic hepatitis B patients in the Utrecht region in the Netherlands

M. Dimmendaal, P.A.M. Kracht, S. Dijkstra, J.E. Arends, F. Woonink, on behalf of the REACH working group
AbstractFull textPDF


Background: In the Netherlands, approximately 200 patients die annually from a chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection, even though effective antiviral treatment is available. There are an estimated 49,000 Dutch CHB patients. Many of these patients have been lost to follow-up (LFU) over time. The study aimed to trace LFU CHB patients in the province of Utrecht and bring them back into care.
Methods: Positive hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) tests from 2001-2015 were collected from the four hospitals in the Utrecht province and linked to medical records. The general practitioners (GPs) were requested in writing to evaluate LFU CHB patients and to refer patients when needed. In addition, GPs were asked to fill out a questionnaire on the patients’ characteristics and to indicate reasons for not being
able to perform an evaluation.
Results: A total of 2,242 chronic CHB patients were identified based on HBsAg-positive serology. After review of their medical records, 599 (27%) patients were eligible for retrieval. Of those, the GP response rate was 49% (n = 292) and 62 patients (10%) of the eligible CHB
patients could be evaluated. Of these, 20 patients (3%) were referred to a hospital and 42 patients (7%) did not have an indication for referral.
Conclusion: Lost to follow-up CHB patients can be traced through screening of past positive HBsAg tests. There was willingness among GPs to participate in the retrieval of CHB patients. This may contribute to the reduction of the CHB-related burden of disease.