A Global Survey of Physicians Knowledge About Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

      Background & Aims

      Despite rapidly increasing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) prevalence, providers’ knowledge may be limited. We assessed NAFLD knowledge and associated factors among physicians of different specialties globally.


      NAFLD knowledge surveys containing 54 and 59 questions covering 3 domains (epidemiology/pathogenesis, diagnostics, and treatment) were completed electronically by hepatologists, gastroenterologists (GEs), endocrinologists (ENDOs), and primary care physicians (PCPs) from 40 countries comprising 5 Global Burden of Disease super-regions. Over 24 months, 2202 surveys were completed (488 hepatologists, 758 GEs, 148 ENDOs, and 808 PCPs; 50% high-income Global Burden of Disease super-region, 27% from North Africa and Middle East, 12% Southeast Asia, and 5% South Asian and Latin America).


      Hepatologists saw the greatest number of NAFLD patients annually: median 150 (interquartile range, 60–300) vs 100 (interquartile range, 35–200) for GEs, 100 (interquartile range, 30–200) for ENDOs, and 10 (interquartile range, 4–50) for PCPs (all P < .0001). The primary sources of NAFLD knowledge acquisition for hepatologists were international conferences (33% vs 8%–26%) and practice guidelines for others (39%–44%). The Internet was the second most common source of NAFLD knowledge for PCPs (28%). NAFLD knowledge scores were higher for hepatologists than GEs: epidemiology, 62% vs 53%; diagnostics, 80% vs 73%; and treatment, 61% vs 58% (P < .0001), and ENDOs scores were higher than PCPs: epidemiology, 70% vs 60%; diagnostics, 71% vs 64%; and treatment, 79% vs 68% (P < .0001). Being a hepatologist or ENDO was associated with higher knowledge scores than a GE or PCP, respectively (P < .05). Higher NAFLD knowledge scores were associated independently with a greater number of NAFLD patients seen (P < .05).


      Despite the growing burden of NAFLD, a significant knowledge gap remains for the identification, diagnosis, and management of NAFLD.


      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      CAP (controlled attenuation parameter), ENDO (endocrinology), GBD (Global Burden of Disease), GE (gastroenterology), NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease), NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), PCP (primary care provider)
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