The LIVER CARE trial - screening for liver disease in individuals attending treatment for alcohol use disorder: a randomized controlled feasibility trial

Peter Jepsen, Natasja von Wowern, Lone Galmstrup Madsen, Mette Kruse Klausen, Signe Düring, Kirstine Skov Benthien, Matilde Winther-Jensen, Janne Petersen, Gro Askgaard


BACKGROUND: Alcohol-related liver disease is a preventable disease with high mortality. If individuals with alcohol-related liver disease were to be diagnosed earlier by screening and they reduced their alcohol consumption, lives lost to alcohol-related liver disease might be saved. A liver stiffness measurement (FibroScan©) is a key tool to screen for alcohol-related liver disease in asymptomatic individuals. No randomized controlled trials have been conducted to test if screening for liver disease reduces alcohol consumption in individuals with alcohol use disorders, in addition to what can be obtained by motivational interventions. We aimed to assess the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial of a screening for liver disease on the prevalence of alcohol abstinence or light consumption after 6 months in individuals attending outpatient treatment for alcohol use disorder.

METHODS: We used an interdisciplinary approach to develop the format of the randomized controlled trial. Individuals were recruited from one outpatient treatment facility for alcohol use disorders. Study participants were randomized 1:1 to receive a) a liver stiffness measurement in addition to usual care (intervention) or b) usual care (control). Follow-up on alcohol consumption was assessed by telephone interview after 6 months and corroborated by data from records from public hospitals and the alcohol treatment facility. Feasibility was assessed by probabilities of recruitment, retention, and completion and estimated by the exact binominal test, with success defined as > 50% participation for each endpoint. The study design was evaluated at interdisciplinary meetings with staff and researchers from the outpatient alcohol treatment facility and the hospital clinic.

RESULTS: Forty of 57 invited individuals agreed to participate in the study (recruitment = 70% (95% CI: 57-82)); 19 of 20 participants randomized to the intervention showed up for the screening (retention = 95% (95% CI: 75-100)). Follow-up telephone interviews succeeded for 33 of 39 reachable participants (completion = 85% (95% CI: 69-94)). Treatment records indicated that the 6 participants who were lost to follow-up for the telephone interview had not achieved alcohol abstinence or light consumption. There was no evidence that the intervention increased abstinence or light alcohol consumption at follow-up: 45% (95% CI: 23-68) in the intervention group and 65% (95% CI: 41-85) in the control group had a alcohol consumption below 10 standard drinks/week at 6 months. The main obstacle regarding study feasibility was to avoid disappointment in individuals randomized as controls.

CONCLUSIONS: This feasibility study developed a study design to test the influence of screening for liver disease on abstinence or light alcohol consumption in individuals attending treatment for alcohol use disorder.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: identifier: NCT05244720; registered on February 17, 2022.

Original languageEnglish
Article number78
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)78
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2024


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Alcohol-related liver disease
  • Feasibility study
  • Outpatient alcohol treatment
  • Randomized trial
  • Screening


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