Emiratis establish better bond with family doctors than expats
Dubai - 36% expat respondents in the UAE do not visit a GP when sick, 28% go directly to a specialist
By Staff Reporter
Published: Mon 8 Jan 2018, 8:51 PM
Last updated: Mon 8 Jan 2018, 10:56 PM
About 41 per cent of GCC residents go directly to a specialist when they fall ill, as opposed to seeing a general practitioner (GP) or family doctor, a survey says.
The survey commissioned by Arab Health 2018 - conducted by YouGov in December 2017, with over 2,700 participants from across the GCC - revealed that there is a lack of awareness of the benefits of visiting a GP in the GCC, with only 34 per cent of survey respondents visiting them.
When looking at the UAE results, the survey showed a clear distinction between healthcare habits of nationals and expats. Fifty per cent of the Emirati nationals surveyed stated that they do not go directly to a specialist without consulting a GP, while 33 per cent opt to visit a specialist when they are ill.
In comparison to this, an average of 36 per cent of expat respondents residing in the UAE stated they do not visit a GP when sick, and 28 per cent go directly to a specialist. This suggests that the local population is more likely to visit a primary healthcare provider and have a family doctor than the expat population, highlighting a lack of awareness on the importance of establishing a relationship with a GP outside of their native countries.
"The GCC, particularly the UAE, has a large expat population. This can make it challenging for patients to create and maintain long-standing relationships with a primary healthcare provider, with one doctor or clinic having visibility over the patient's medical history and care. However, we recommend that residents find a trusted family physician who can coordinate their medical care including referring them to specialists when necessary," said Dr Rahul Goyal, consultant family medicine and physician clinical informatics lead, Mediclinic, Dubai.
"Family physicians possess unique attitudes, skills and knowledge, which qualify them to provide ongoing, comprehensive medical care to each member of the family," said Dr Nahed Monsef, director of health affairs department, primary health care services sector, Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
"In addition to diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, family physicians provide routine health screenings and counseling on lifestyle changes in an effort to prevent illnesses before they develop. The cornerstone of family medicine is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care that provides optimal medical care by looking at the whole person, rather than focusing on just one organ system.
"Family physician does every effort needed to communicate clearly with consulting specialists to coordinate care and minimise inconvenience to patients," Dr Monsef added.
Katie Briggs, executive director, Arab Health 2018, said: "The 43rd edition of Arab Health introduces new conferences that focus on topics that are relevant for today's practitioners and patients. The family medicine conference will welcome an active panel of notable local and international experts in a wide range of medical areas."