‘Liver talks’ training resource launched to support liver health conversations

Nurse assisting a patient.

Liver Talks: Let’s Talk About Liver Disease Risk, a new training resource for healthcare professionals has been launched to improve the essential conversations they have with people at risk of liver disease. Highlighting the significance of the matter, the British Liver Trust has shared alarming statistics revealing that over 12,000 lives were lost to liver disease in 2022, highlighting the need for proactive interventions to prevent the progression of serious liver damage.

Developed by the Vocal Liver Network in collaboration with the British Liver Trust, the resource was created as part of the Integrated Diagnostics for Early Detection of Liver Disease (ID LIVER) project led by The University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. ID LIVER is a research and innovation initiative aiming to identify liver disease in patients much earlier than current practices.

Over 90% of liver disease cases are preventable, with the primary risk factors being obesity, alcohol, and viral hepatitis. While the liver is remarkably resilient and can regenerate itself, it has its limits and extensive damage can lead to liver disease. However, most liver diseases can be prevented through lifestyle changes.

To understand how better conversations about liver disease risk could take place, the ID LIVER team had discussions with people at increased risk of liver disease and healthcare professionals. They revealed that healthcare professionals acknowledge challenges in addressing specific risk factors, especially obesity and alcohol use. In response to these challenges, ‘Liver Talks’ provides a dynamic resource for healthcare professionals.

Pamela Healy, Chief Executive of British Liver Trust, emphasised, “One in three of us is at risk of liver disease, and the alarming increase in diagnoses necessitates action. Identifying those at risk and discussing the ways they can improve their liver health is vital to reduce their risk of liver disease.

“We know that it can be difficult for healthcare professionals to have these conversations and the ‘Liver Talks’ resource will help address this challenge.  By improving conversations about risk factors, healthcare professionals can provide crucial support and empower people at risk to make lifestyle changes.”

This innovative resource aims to break down barriers and empower healthcare professionals to navigate sensitive topics related to liver disease risk factors effectively. It includes a one-hour session plan, a PowerPoint presentation, and a compelling animation, offering healthcare teams insights into people’s experiences and the opportunity to reflect on how best to initiate conversations and foster understanding.

Dr Varinder Athwal, Consultant Hepatologist at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester, said: “The ID LIVER project was established to diagnose and manage liver disease at earlier, treatable stages. This is particularly important for Greater Manchester and the North West of England as we have some of the UK’s highest rates of advanced liver disease. The Vocal Liver Network is a fantastic way for us to address this major healthcare challenge by working in partnership with patients and the public in the design and management of their health research, ultimately benefiting communities that are traditionally underserved by current care pathways for liver disease”.

The Early Detection of Liver Disease (ID LIVER) is now part of the Health Innovation Accelerator. You can read more on the Health Innovation Accelerator programme here.

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