Health disparities in chronic liver disease

Hepatology. 2023 Apr 1;77(4):1382-1403. doi: 10.1002/hep.32743. Epub 2022 Sep 4.


The syndemic of hazardous alcohol consumption, opioid use, and obesity has led to important changes in liver disease epidemiology that have exacerbated health disparities. Health disparities occur when plausibly avoidable health differences are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. Highlighting health disparities, their sources, and consequences in chronic liver disease is fundamental to improving liver health outcomes. There have been large increases in alcohol use disorder in women, racial and ethnic minorities, and those experiencing poverty in the context of poor access to alcohol treatment, leading to increasing rates of alcohol-associated liver diseases. Rising rates of NAFLD and associated fibrosis have been observed in Hispanic persons, women aged > 50, and individuals experiencing food insecurity. Access to viral hepatitis screening and linkage to treatment are suboptimal for racial and ethnic minorities and individuals who are uninsured or underinsured, resulting in greater liver-related mortality and later-stage diagnoses of HCC. Data from more diverse cohorts on autoimmune and cholestatic liver diseases are lacking, supporting the need to study the contemporary epidemiology of these disorders in greater detail. Herein, we review the existing literature on racial and ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic disparities in chronic liver diseases using a social determinants of health framework to better understand how social and structural factors cause health disparities and affect chronic liver disease outcomes. We also propose potential solutions to eliminate disparities, outlining health-policy, health-system, community, and individual solutions to promote equity and improve health outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic*
  • Liver Neoplasms*
  • Middle Aged
  • Racial Groups
  • United States / epidemiology