Author(s): Qidwai W, Azam SI, Ali SS, Ayub S
OBJECTIVE: To study the utilization of services of Health care providers among patients presenting to Family Physicians in a teaching hospital in Karachi. METHODOLOGY: It was a cross sectional study. A questionnaire was developed to collect patient's utilization of services of health care providers. The investigators administered the questionnaire to 387 patients, after purpose of the study was explained, written consent was taken and confidentiality was assured. RESULTS: The study population included more females than males, with average age of 32.6 years. The majority were married, well educated, in private and government service, were students or housewives. We found that 383(99%), 141(36.4%), 88(22.7%) and 45(11.6%) of the respondents had used services of allopaths, homeopaths, hakims and spiritual healers respectively. It is important to consider that these patients had come for allopathic treatment, thus exhibiting preference for it. The five main ailments for consulting health care providers differed, suggesting the perception in the mind of patients that certain ailments are better treated by particular system of treatment than the others. Studies are needed to explore this area further. The main reasons for consultation with particular health care provider were the recommendation of others or the perceived effectiveness of the practitioners. The reasons cited for non-consultation with health care providers were the lack of belief in them or lack of effectiveness of their treatment. Three hundred seventy nine (98%), 259 (67%), 174 (45%) and 249 (64.4%) of patients were willing to consult allopaths, homeopaths, hakims and spiritual healers again respectively, if unwell in future. CONCLUSION: We found a substantial utilization of services of complimentary medicine practitioners among patients seeking allopathic treatment. Further study on the utilization and organization of services offered by health care providers is required.