Family physicians' knowledge and screening of chronic hepatitis and liver cancer

Fam Med. 2008 May;40(5):345-51.


Background and objectives: Studies show that primary care providers may suboptimally diagnose, treat, or refer patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In addition, little is known about family physicians' knowledge and practices regarding chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection or monitoring for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods: We used a cross-sectional mail survey of members of the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians (n=217). Outcome measures were knowledge of risk factors, screening, counseling for chronic HCV and HBV, and screening for HCC.

Results: Mean knowledge score for risk factors was 79% (HBV) and 70% (HCV). Physicians who diagnosed >or= six cases per year had higher knowledge of HBV risk factors. Physicians in practice >20 years had lower knowledge of HCV risk factors. Mean knowledge score for counseling was 77%. About 25% screened for liver cancer. Screening for HCC in patients with HBV was related to years in practice, female physicians, and group practice. Physicians in academic settings were more likely to screen patients with HCV for HCC. Forty-two percent and 51% referred patients with chronic HBV and chronic HCV, respectively, to the specialist for total management.

Conclusions: Family physicians have insufficient knowledge about screening and counseling for chronic hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / therapy
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • New Jersey
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Postal Service