Screening for hepatitis B, C and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a survey of community-based physicians

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009 May 1;29(9):1019-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2009.03961.x.


Background: Screening guidelines for hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C viruses (HCV) as well as a position statement for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have been put forth by different sources, but awareness of these guidelines and their impact on the physician practices have not been assessed.

Aim: To assess the attitudes of primary care physicians (PCPs), gastroenterologists (GEs) and hepatologists (HEPs) regarding screening for HBV, HCV and NAFLD.

Design: A survey questionnaire was sent to community-based PCPs and GEs to assess issues related to HBV, HCV and NAFLD. The same questionnaire was sent to hepatologists (HEPs). The questionnaire contained 10 items related to demographic and practice patterns of these physicians, 35 items related to HBV, 35 items related to HCV and 29 items related to NAFLD.

Results: A total of 214 physicians (103 PCPs, 59 GEs and 52 HEPs) completed the survey. A majority of PCPs, GEs and HEPs agreed on most screening issues for these causes of liver disease. Nevertheless, within group comparison of physicians (guideline aware versus guideline unaware) showed significant differences in accurate response between those who were aware of guidelines and those who were not aware.

Conclusions: A large percentage of PCPs and GEs were unaware of official guidelines for viral hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Those aware of guidelines were more likely to screen appropriately and avoid unnecessary testing. More needs to be done to assess awareness and the impact implementation of guidelines in hepatology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Family Practice / standards*
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / standards*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Young Adult