Attitudes of Physicians, Patients, and Village Health Workers Toward Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy in Rural China: A Focus Group Study | Glaucoma | JAMA Ophthalmology | JAMA Network
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June 2012

Attitudes of Physicians, Patients, and Village Health Workers Toward Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy in Rural China: A Focus Group Study

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Division of Preventive Ophthalmology, and State Key Laboratory, Sun Yat Sen University, Guangzhou, China (Drs Yan, He, and Congdon and Mss Liu and Gruber); and ORBIS International, New York, New York (Dr Congdon).

Arch Ophthalmol. 2012;130(6):761-770. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2012.145

Objective To understand the knowledge and attitudes of rural Chinese physicians, patients, and village health workers (VHWs) toward diabetic eye disease and glaucoma.

Methods Focus groups for each of the 3 stakeholders were conducted in 3 counties (9 groups). The focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and coded using specialized software. Responses to questions about barriers to compliance and interventions to remove these barriers were also ranked and scored.

Results Among 22 physicians, 23 patients, and 25 VHWs, knowledge about diabetic eye disease was generally good, but physicians and patients understood glaucoma only as an acutely symptomatic disease of relatively low prevalence. Physicians did not favor routine pupillary dilation to detect asymptomatic disease, expressing concerns about workflow and danger and inconvenience to patients. Providers believed that cost was the main barrier to patient compliance, whereas patients ranked poorly trained physicians as more important. All 3 stakeholder groups ranked financial interventions to improve compliance (eg, direct payment, lotteries, and contracts) low and preferred patient education and telephone contact by nurses. All the groups somewhat doubted the ability of VHWs to screen for eye disease accurately, but patients were generally willing to pay for VHW screening. The VHWs were uncertain about the value of eye care training but might accept it if accompanied by equipment. They did not rank payment for screening services as important.

Conclusions Misconceptions about glaucoma's asymptomatic nature and an unwillingness to routinely examine asymptomatic patients must be addressed in training programs. Home contact by nurses and patient education may be the most appropriate interventions to improve compliance.