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Talking about liver disease risk

The North West of England has one of the UK’s highest rates of liver disease.

An illustration of a man talking to a doctor
Healthcare professionals told us they found it challenging to discuss some risk factors.

Many people don’t have symptoms until their liver disease is an advanced stage. If it’s diagnosed early, people can make lifestyle changes which could improve their liver health. There is limited public awareness about the condition and also stigma associated with it, due to the misconception that it’s usually caused by harmful levels of alcohol consumption.

You hear about other health things all over and nothing about the liver. It just doesn’t seem to be talked about enough, the health of your liver

—Dan, Liver Network

In the Vocal Liver Network people at risk of liver disease and those who attend liver services help to ensure that research into liver disease takes people’s views and experiences into account.

As we were setting up the Network, we found that members of the public and health care professionals feel that communication about liver disease needs to be better. We discovered that many people at risk of liver disease had never had a conversation with a health care professional about this topic. Health care professionals also told us that they found it challenging to discuss some risk factors, particularly obesity and alcohol use, with patients.

I find getting the balance right between giving people the facts but also not scaring them too much can be difficult.

—Health care professional

Working with people at risk of liver disease, community groups and health researchers we’ve created a new animation. In the film Jade, Kevin and Rucksana share their experiences of not knowing they were at risk, how they wish they had been told and the kind of personally and culturally relevant advice that they needed.

When we started to speak to our communities about liver disease risk, they told us the way the conversations were held were really important. It's been great to involve a large South Asian community in the development of this resource.

—Shamime, Project Adviser

The animation is also now part of a new free training resource for health care professionals. Liver Talks: Let’s Talk About Liver Disease Risk provides an opportunity for health care teams to discuss and reflect on their experiences and identify strategies for having effective conversations. The resource pack provides everything a team would need to run their own session as part of a team meeting or development session.

The animation has had a profound effect upon me….I have to admit had I seen this video some five years ago I’m fairly certain I would have done something about my own situation.

—Steve, Liver patient

Download Liver Talks: Let’s Talk About Liver Disease Risk on the British Liver Trust website & watch the film below.