Original Research

The attitude and perceptions of doctors at Letaba Hospital towards family medicine: A qualitative study

Christian N. Saidiya, Gert J.O. Marincowitz, Doudou K. Nzaumvila, Tombo Bongongo, Indiran Govender
South African Family Practice | Vol 62, No 1 : Part 3| a5034 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v62i1.5034 | © 2020 Christian N. Saidiya, Gert J.O. Marincowitz, Doudou K. Nzaumvila, Tombo Bongongo, Indiran Govender | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 November 2019 | Published: 27 July 2020

About the author(s)

Christian N. Saidiya, Department of Family Medicine Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Gert J.O. Marincowitz, Department of Health, Limpopo, South Africa; and, Department of Family Medicine, University of Limpopo, South Africa
Doudou K. Nzaumvila, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Tombo Bongongo, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Indiran Govender, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: It was noted that family medicine (FM) was not used properly by doctors at Letaba Hospital. Anecdotally, misconceptions and misunderstandings about FM were reported. An exploration was recommended to understand the perceptions and attitudes of doctors at Letaba Hospital with regard to FM. Identifying doctors’ misconceptions and the possible reasons for mistaken beliefs about FM by other specialists could offer possible solutions.

Methods: A qualitative study was conducted that attempted to identify the perceptions of doctors about FM and to explore their attitudes towards this specialty.

Results: The primary findings indicate more positive than negative perceptions of other disciplines towards FM. The participants viewed FM as the centre of the healthcare system, with prevention being its core business. This includes a holistic approach, the continuity of care, being community-based, and receiving recognition as a specialty. Family medicine was described by various medical personnel as making a positive contribution to the healthcare system. They note the role of FM discipline in district hospitals, its support of primary health- care and its ability to fill the gaps in the healthcare system, including surgical skills. The few negative perceptions that were identified mostly related to the status of FM as a specialty and doctors’ level of surgical ability. Based on individual interviews, 11 themes were extracted and a ‘wheel’ model was created, depicting the core values of the FM discipline.

Conclusion: The study concluded that most participants have a positive perception of the role of FM, similar to the views of the senior staff in the discipline itself. The concerns from most participants are in the area of preventative medicine, which has not been given enough priority in South Africa and where doctors are expected to rapidly attend to long queues and manage casualties. There was also concern of a perceived lack of surgical skills.


Keywords

Doctors’ perceptions towards family medicine; community health services; primary healthcare professionals; doctors’ misconceptions of family medicine; family medicine

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