Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
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Knowledge and attitudes of primary healthcare physicians toward the diagnosis and management of inflammatory bowel disease following an educational intervention: A comparative analysis


1 The Joint Program of Family Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Mahmoud Mosli,
Department of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University Hospital, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjg.SJG_169_19

Background/Aims: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory condition that requires early diagnosis and proper management. Patients with early symptoms of IBD are typically evaluated first by primary healthcare (PHC) physicians, who in turn refer patients with suspected IBD to specialists. Therefore, we aimed to assess the knowledge and attitude of PHC physicians toward IBD. Materials and Methods: We conducted a comparative cross-sectional survey of PHC physicians practicing at the Ministry of Health PHC centers in Jeddah, KSA. Demographics and data on the knowledge and practices of physicians were collected through a predefined and tested questionnaire that included three domains (Eaden, Leong, and Sign/Symptom Awareness). A subgroup of the cohort was educated about IBD referral criteria (group A, n = 65) prior to study initiation and their responses were compared with those from the remaining group (group B, n = 135). Regression analysis was used to test associations with the significance threshold set at 5%. Results: A total of 211 PHC physicians were surveyed with a response rate of 95%. Female physicians comprised 66.5% of the cohort and the mean age was 32.26 ± 6.6 years. About 91% of physicians were Saudi nationals, and 75.5% were MBBS degree holders. The majority of the respondents (93%) reported seeing zero to five patients with IBD per month, and almost half of the physicians preferred to always refer patients to specialists (49.5%). Most of the respondents were uncomfortable (3.27 ± 1.4 to 4.35 ± 1.2) with initiating or managing specific medical therapies (maintenance therapy, therapy for acute flare, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and biologics) for patients with IBD. With regard to knowledge, group A had higher scores in all three domains especially in the Sign/Symptom Awareness domain (mean score 6.17 ± 1.1 vs. 3.5 ± 1.01, P < 0.001). According to multivariate analyses, both groups' knowledge showed no significant relationship with any of the medical therapies, except for the Sign/Symptom Awareness domain which was shown to be significantly affecting the comfort of doctors in managing maintenance therapy among patients with IBD [odds ratio (OR) =1.61, P = 0.008]. Gender, nationality, and qualifications were found to have a significant influence on the comfort in initiating specific medical therapies. Group A was identified as a significant factor in predicting comfort with managing corticosteroids (OR = 8.25, P = 0.006) and immunomodulators (OR = 6.03, P = 0.02) on patients with IBD. Conclusion: The knowledge and comfort of PHC physicians with IBD medication prescription appears to be higher when education is provided. This observation is important, since PHC physicians are responsible for early identification and referral of patients suspected of having IBD, to specialists.


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    -  Alharbi R
    -  Almahmudi F
    -  Makhdoom Y
    -  Mosli M
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