Supervisors: A/Prof Patricia Valery (QIMRB) and Prof Elizabeth Powell (hepatologist, University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital)
- Master or Honours project
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects over 5.5 million Australians and this figure is rising as a direct consequence of the increasing prevalence of obesity and obesity-related complications. While most patients are asymptomatic and many don’t progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or cirrhosis, the most important predictor of mortality in NAFLD is the extent of liver fibrosis.
NAFLD is the most common chronic liver disorder seen in primary care. However, many general practitioners (GPs) don’t know how to assess the extent of liver fibrosis in NAFLD patients and when to refer patients for liver specialist assessment.
Through passive follow up of GP referrals to hepatology clinic (medical chart review) we will estimate numbers and rate of patients referred to the hepatology clinic with a final diagnosis of NAFLD; the proportion of referral letters that appropriately consider NAFLD as a potential diagnosis (“knowledgeable referrals”); and the proportion of NAFLD patients referred for assessment that have advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis.
The student will be involved in data collection (medical chart review) and data analysis. Interested students should have a clinical background (preferably medicine or nursing but allied health professionals would be considered).
With this project, the student will gain experience in public health research, epidemiology, and statistics, particularly in the field of chronic liver disease.