Knowledge and perceptions of patients regarding anaesthetists and anaesthesia

Mooruth, Vivek
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Background: The poor public image of anaesthetists, and their discipline, has been a long standing and ubiquitous problem. Extensive research has been done in the developed world investigating public awareness of anaesthetists but there are few publications from the developing world, and no publications from South Africa were identified. Aim: The aim of this study was to describe Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital patients’ knowledge and perceptions regarding anaesthetists and anaesthesia. Methods: A qualitative, contextual, exploratory, descriptive research method was used to elucidate patients’ knowledge and perceptions of anaesthesia and anaesthetists. Qualitative data were collected from a convenience sample of 26 Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital surgical outpatient department patients using semi-structured individual interviews until data saturation was achieved. The thematic method was used to analyse the data. Findings: The major theme that emerged from the data was perioperative education. It related to the operative process in general and not specifically to anaesthesia. This theme covered a range of domains from the preconceptions and knowledge patients came with, to the counselling they received and its impact, and their desire for further knowledge. Conclusion and recommendations: Patients’ descriptions of their perioperative counselling and education experiences showed their need and desire for personalised communication and further education. Whether their needs are met affects their impressions of their perioperative experience. Therefore, patients’ communication needs deserve greater emphasis in healthcare professionals’ training. Healthcare professionals need to develop adequate knowledge and skills to help patients negotiate this potentially traumatic experience. Likewise, further research in this area is suggested to enrich the field.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Medicine in the branch of Anaesthesiology 01/07/2015 Johannesburg