Implementing the right care in the right place at the right time for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD-RRR study): a study protocol for a community care pathway for people with type 2 diabetes

Lucy Gracen, Kelly L. Hayward, Melanie Aikebuse, Anthony Russell, James O’Beirne, Steven McPhail, Katharine M. Irvine, Suzanne Williams, Patricia C. Valery, Elizabeth E. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an emerging epidemic that affects approximately half of all people with type 2 diabetes. Those with type 2 diabetes are a high-risk NAFLD subgroup because of their increased risk of clinically significant liver-related outcomes from NAFLD which include hepatocellular carcinoma, cirrhosis-related complications and liver disease mortality. They may benefit from early detection of disease as this would allow at risk patients to access hepatocellular carcinoma surveillance, emerging drug trials for NAFLD and specialist hepatology care prior to emergence of liver-related complications. Methods: This is a prospective cohort study aimed at incorporating and assessing a community care pathway for liver fibrosis screening into routine care for type 2 diabetes. Patients undergo a point of care assessment of hepatic steatosis and stiffness using FibroScan at the time of the routine diabetes appointment or when attending the clinic for blood tests in preparation for this appointment. Discussion: We propose that implementation of a community-based NAFLD diagnosis, risk-stratification, and referral pathway for people with type 2 diabetes is feasible, will provide earlier, targeted detection of advanced fibrosis, and reduce unnecessary referrals to hepatology outpatients for fibrosis risk assessment. Our study will provide important information about the feasibility of establishing a NAFLD pathway for people with type 2 diabetes in primary care. Ultimately, our findings will help direct spending and resource allocation for NAFLD in a high-risk population. Regular evaluation by stakeholders during implementation will help to create a reliable and sustainable community care pathway and establish a perpetual cycle of learning in primary care. Trial registration: ANZCTR, ACTRN12621000330842. Registered 23 March 2021.

Original languageEnglish
Article number487
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cirrhosis
  • Delivery of health care
  • Diabetes complications
  • Integrated
  • Patient care
  • Risk assessment

Cite this