Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final. In the meantime, results have been published in peer-reviewed journals, as listed below.

What is the research about?

Hepatitis C virus affects almost 5 million people in the United States. It’s a major cause of chronic liver disease, liver scarring, cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, and death. Hepatitis C infects 30–70 percent of people with opioid addiction.

People with opioid drug addiction often don’t get treatment for hepatitis C. This may be because they don’t know much about hepatitis C. Or they may have a hard time finding and scheduling the care they need. People with opioid addiction also may not trust doctors.

Methadone clinics help people reduce or stop their dependence on heroin or other opioids. However, only a small number of methadone clinics also treat patients for hepatitis C. Many methadone clinics refer patients with hepatitis C to liver specialists outside the clinics.

In this study, researchers are comparing two ways to treat hepatitis C in patients who are getting methadone treatment. With the first way, patients get treatment through telemedicine while they are at a methadone clinic. In telemedicine, a doctor uses videoconferencing from another location to meet with the patient. With the second way, which is usual care, patients get in-person treatment from a liver specialist who is not at the clinic.

Who can this research help?

Health administrators, liver specialists, and methadone clinics can use information from this study to make decisions about how to care for people with hepatitis C who also have opioid addiction. People with opioid addiction who have hepatitis C can use information from this study to decide whether getting treatment via telemedicine is right for them.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is enrolling patients with hepatitis C from 12 methadone clinics. The team is selecting clinics in rural and urban areas in New York State. Researchers are working to make sure the study includes a mix of patients.  

Patients who have hepatitis C and aren’t getting treatment for it elsewhere can join the study. All methadone clinics are providing usual care for the first six months of the study. As part of usual care, these clinics refer patients to liver specialists outside of the clinic. After six months, the research team is selecting several clinics by chance to switch to using telemedicine to treat patients.  Every nine months more clinics switch until all of the clinics are using telemedicine to treat patients’ hepatitis C. Patients getting telemedicine receive their hepatitis C medicine at the same time they get methadone.

The research team is looking at both telemedicine and usual care to see:

  • How many patients with hepatitis C are cured, which means the virus can’t be found in the patient’s blood 12 weeks after treatment ends
  • How many patients started and finished their treatment
  • How satisfied patients are with the care they received, based on a questionnaire
  • How many patients get reinfected with the virus after being cured

One or two patients from each clinic are part of a patient advisory committee for this study. Local and federal government agencies, community organizations, and other organizations interested in hepatitis C are participating as study partners. Experts in hepatitis C treatment and medical specialists from a variety of disciplines have worked with the research team to plan the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design ElementDescription
Study DesignRandomized controlled trial
PopulationAdults 18 years and older who have hepatitis C and have been enrolled in an opioid treatment program for at least 6 months
  • Telemedicine
  • Usual care, which is usually referral to a liver specialist off-site

Primary: percentage of patients who do not have hepatitis C in their system after treatment ends

Secondary: patient satisfaction with the delivery of care by telemedicine, patient satisfaction with the delivery of care by a liver specialist, differences in how many patients start and complete treatment, how many patients become reinfected with hepatitis C or relapse after treatment

Timeframe  Timeframe Length of follow-up for collecting data on primary outcomes. View Glossary 12-week follow-up after treatment ends for primary outcome

Journal Citations

Related Journal Citations

Project Information

Andrew Talal, MD, MPH
The Research Foundation for the State University of New York
Patient-Centered HCV Care via Telemedicine for Individuals on Opiate Substitution Therapy: A Stepped Wedge Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

Key Dates

May 2016
April 2024

Study Registration Information


Has Results
Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: April 19, 2024