Funding source:  Metro South Health

Grant Type:  Service Agreement

The prevalence of hepatitis C among prisoners in correctional facilities is about 40 times higher than the general population. Yet, upon entry to prison, only 2% of non-Indigenous participants and no Indigenous participants had received treatment for hepatitis C.

Conventional antiviral therapy for hepatitis C have previously had aggression and mental health issues as a side effect, contributing to their low use in prisons.  However, new hepatitis C treatments are now available that are easier to administer, have fewer side effects and require much less follow up. Treatment with these new medications typically takes 12 weeks only. However, in correctional facilities, this process could take up to one year. This is due to a multitude of factors, such as transportation of prisoners to the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s secure unit for tests and scans, and the involvement of multiple medical and specialist staff are needed to review cases, prescribe treatment, authorise referrals etc.

This study examines a revised model of care, in which Hepatitis C treatment will be made available to all eligible prisoners: A hub and spoke model will connect a specialist hepatology team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (hub) to selected prison sites in Queensland (spokes) via videoconference. This multidisciplinary telehealth service will be used to assess, prescribe medications, and review progress during the full course of treatment. This also means that prisoners will no longer require transportation to the hospital’s secure unit.

Service activity and cost data along with clinical staff perceptions will be gathered with the aim of summarising this model of care and benefits it may have for staff and prisoners.

Project members

Associate Professor Anthony Smith

Associate Professor Anthony Smith

Acting Director
Centre for Online Health
Dr Danette Langbecker

Dr Danette Langbecker

NHMRC Research Fellow
Centre for Online Health
Dr Liam Caffery

Dr Liam Caffery

Senior Research Fellow and Telehealth Technology Director
Centre for Online Health
Dr Maike Neuhaus

Dr Maike Neuhaus

Research Fellow
Centre for Online Health

Mrs Lisa Garner

Telehealth Service Manager
Centre for Online Health

Ms Monica Taylor

Research Assistant
Centre for Health Services Research