A global survey of physicians knowledge about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

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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.
Methods: 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).
Results: 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).
Conclusions: Despite the growing burden of NAFLD, a significant knowledge gap remains for the identification, diagnosis, and management of NAFLD.


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Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology