Introduction: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD) has become one of the most pervasive causes of hepatic pathology. Because of its marked association with metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, NAFLD has gained substantial focus recently. Its prevalence and incidence are on the rise in Pakistan. However, due to its indolent and mostly asymptomatic course, NAFLD is often overlooked. This reckless behavior towards a potentially deadly disease is influenced most notably by disinformation or flawed perception, although there are a number of other complex socioeconomic components to this as well. With respect to NAFLD, the gap between disease understanding and steps for management is growing in the Pakistani society. With this study, we hoped and aimed to evaluate just how far and wide these shortcomings were found and how was NAFLD perceived in the local populace via a self-administered survey.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional observational cohort study undertaken at the Department of Gastroenterology, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, and Medical Unit II, Dow University of Health Sciences, Ojha Campus, Karachi, Pakistan. All patients ≥18 years with a diagnosis of NAFLD were included in the study. NAFLD was diagnosed on the basis of sonographic evidence. All ultrasounds were done by a senior expert radiologist with at least 10 years of postgraduate experience. Ultrasounds were performed twice in all patients to rule out human error and bias. Perceptions regarding the knowledge of NAFLD were assessed using a self-administered survey questionnaire.
Results: The female-to-male ratio in our cohort was 3:1. The mean age and body mass index (BMI) recorded were 39.85 ± 9.79 years and 31.21 ± 3.6 kg/m2, respectively. Sixty participants (26.4%) knew about their disease (NAFLD) while only 36 (15.9%) knew what NAFLD was and only 33 (14.5%) participants knew about the cardiovascular risk associated with it. Nearly two-thirds of the patients considered themselves overweight, while 180 (79.3%) of them were willing to lose weight. However, just about half of the cohort admitted the need for improved eating habits and increased physical activity/exercise in their daily lives. Fifty-seven (25.1%) patients admitted to using alternative or quack medications and only 45 (19.8%) patients considered them harmful.
Conclusions: Patients harboring NAFLD have little to no knowledge about the disease and its nature or the fact that they are suffering from it despite being diagnosed clinically. Furthermore, while the general populace is willing to accept being overweight and having unhealthy eating habits, their willingness in initiating real-life practical steps to manage NAFLD is lacking.
Khan, M. A.,
Channa, R. H.,
(2021). Perception of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: Real-life experience from Pakistan. Cureus, 13(6), e16029.
Available at: https://ecommons.aku.edu/pakistan_fhs_mc_med_gastroenterol/301
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.