Journal Articles

Publication Date





Primary care physicians (PCPs) are well suited to manage patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but the limited, existing research suggests inadequate knowledge about the natural history, diagnostic methods, and management of NAFLD. The purpose of this qualitative study is to further understand the knowledge and practices for the diagnosis and management of NAFLD among PCPs. We conducted in-depth interviews with PCPs in the Greater Houston area, addressing current clinical practices used for diagnosing and managing NAFLD, as well as the perceptions of the PCPs regarding the burden of NAFLD on patients. We recorded interviews, transcribed them, coded transcripts, and identified patterns and themes. The interviewed PCPs (n = 16) were from internal or family medicine, with a range of experience (1.5-30 years). We found variations in NAFLD diagnosis and management across practices and by insurance status. Patients with abnormal liver imaging who had insurance or were within a safety-net healthcare system were referred by PCPs to specialists. Uninsured patients with persistently elevated liver enzymes received lifestyle recommendations from PCPs without confirmatory imaging or specialist referral. The role of PCPs in NAFLD management varied, with some helping patients set dietary and physical activity goals while others provided only general recommendations and/or referred patients to a dietitian. The diagnosis and management of NAFLD vary widely among PCPs and may be impacted by patients' insurance status and clinic-specific practices. The increasing burden of NAFLD in the U.S. medical system highlights the need for more PCPs involvement in managing NAFLD.


Humans, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Physicians, Primary Care, Qualitative Research



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.