Prevalence and severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are underestimated in clinical practice: impact of a dedicated screening approach at a large university teaching hospital

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Thomas Marjot
  • Emilia Sbardella
  • A Moolaa
  • G.D Tan
  • M Ainsworth
  • JFL Cobbold
  • Jeremy Tomlinson

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


To define the attitudes and current clinical practice of diabetes specialists with regard to non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease and, based on the results, implement an evidenced‐based pathway for non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease assessment.

An online survey was disseminated to diabetes specialists. Based on findings from this survey, we sought a local solution by launching an awareness campaign and implementing a screening algorithm across all diabetes clinics at a secondary/tertiary referral centre.

A total of 133 diabetes specialists responded to the survey. Fewer than 5% of responders correctly assessed the prevalence and severity of advanced fibrotic non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease in people with diabetes as 50–75%. Whilst most clinicians performed liver function tests, only 5.7% responded stating that they would use, or had used, a non‐invasive algorithm to stage the severity of non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease. Implementing a local non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease awareness campaign and screening strategy using pre‐printed blood request forms, we ensured that 100% (n=395) of all people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus attending secondary/tertiary care diabetes clinics over a 6‐month period were appropriately screened for advanced fibrotic non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease using the Fib‐4 index; 17.9% required further investigation or assessment.

The prevalence and severity of non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease are underestimated among diabetes specialists. The Fib‐4 index can easily be incorporated into clinical practice in secondary/tertiary care to identify those individuals at risk of advanced fibrosis who require further assessment and who may benefit from a dedicated multidisciplinary approach to their management.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018