BACKGROUND: Taking a sexual history and discussing sexual health issues with patients form an important part of a medical consultation. These specific communication skills can be acquired through various teaching methods.
OBJECTIVE: This paper describes the communication skill workshops conducted for undergraduate medical students on how to talk to patients about sex.
METHODOLOGY: 198 medical students participated in a series of workshops conducted in the University of Malaya in 2001-2002. Pre- and post-workshop evaluations of the programme were carried out to find out the students' difficulties and to assess the usefulness of the workshop. The workshop consisted of a short lecture, role-plays and discussion.
RESULTS: Only 34% of the participants had received some informal training during their clinical years. The main barriers encountered were gender and age differences, language and choice of words, patients and doctors feeling shy, and cultural differences. The workshop was felt to be useful (mean score 4.38, maximum 5.0), most students felt comfortable during the workshop (mean score 4.10, maximum 5.0) and there was significant improvement in the "comfort level" when talking to patients about sex after attending the workshop (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Gender, language and cultural differences were the main barriers in taking a sexual history and discussing sexual health issues among the medical students. Communication workshop was felt to be a useful and comfortable method of learning these specific.
This study described the practice profile of an open access exercise stress test (EST) service to the primary care physicians at a teaching hospital in 2000. We performed a retrospective review of all ESTs ordered and conducted by the primary care physicians. A total of 145 ESTs were conducted, of which 80.7% were referred for assessment of chest pain. Proportions of positive, negative, uninterpretable and inconclusive ESTs were: 22.1%, 52.8%, 18.1% and 6.9%. Typical chest pain was independently associated with a positive EST in this study (p = 0.008, OR 5.50, 95% CI 1.56-19.37). Although referral to the open access EST service seemed appropriate, there is a need to reduce the number of uninterpretable and inconclusive results.
INTRODUCTION: This study aimed to qualitatively explore adolescents' sexuality and their relation to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk in Malaysia.
METHODS: This study was conducted in 2002 among 16 male and female private college students aged between 18 and 22 years old, all of whom were sexually active. Semi-structured individual interviews were carried out.
RESULTS: There were definite differences in gender roles in terms of how adolescents perceived sex, selection of sex partners and communication with their partners. Definitions of stable and casual relationships differed between males and females. Most participants were concerned about pregnancy rather than sexually transmitted diseases or HIV infection when they interpreted safe sex. Reasons for not practising safe sex include trust between sex partners, complacency, low perception of risk, and negative attitudes towards condom use.
CONCLUSION: These findings were closer to those observed in the developed countries. The findings from this study will serve as a guide to plan for local adolescent health education. It can also serve as a basis for more in-depth quantitative and qualitative research on adolescent sexuality.
Study site: Students, private colleges, Klang Valley, Malaysia
Aim: To explore the help-seeking behavior of primary care doctors during illness. Methods: This qualitative study used focus group discussions to explore participants' help-seeking behavior during illness. It involved 22 primary care doctors (5 lecturers, 12 postgraduate trainees, 5 medical officers) working in a hospital-based primary care clinic. Result: Most primary care doctors in this study managed their illnesses without seeking help. Although most preferred to seek professional help for chronic illnesses and antenatal care, they tend to delay the consultations and were less likely to comply with treatment and follow-up. Explanations for their behavior include their ability to assess and treat themselves, difficulty to find suitable doctors, work commitment, easy access to drugs, and reluctance to assume a sick role. Conclusions: This study found that the help-seeking behavior of primary care doctors was similar to those in other studies. Due to their professional ability, heavy workload and expectations from peer and patients, primary care doctors were more likely to delay in seeking treatment especially for chronic and serious diseases. This highlights the need to enhance support services for doctors during illness. Key words: doctors, help-seeking behavior, illness
Aim: To explore primary care practitioners' experiences and feelings about treating their own family members. Methods: A qualitative study was carried out using focus group discussions. Five sessions were held among 22 primary care practitioners (five academic staff members and 17 medical officers). Results: Most participants treated their family members, especially their immediate families. They considered factors such as duration and severity of illness before seeking consultation with other doctors. Some participants felt satisfied knowing that they were able to treat their own families. However, most felt burdened and uncomfortable in doing so, mainly due to the fear of error in diagnosis and management. They were concerned that strong emotions may make them lose objectivity. Many were aware that negative outcomes resulting from their treatment may affect future relationships. Conclusions: While some doctors were comfortable about treating their own families, some faced significant conflict in doing so. Their decisions depended on the interplay of factors including the doctor, the family member and the relationship they share. A doctor needs to consider the potential conflict that may arise when carrying out one's professional role and at the same time being a concerned family member. Key words: doctors, family, Malaysia, primary care, self-treat.
Shared decision making (SDM) activities in Malaysia began around 2010. Although the concept is not widespread, there are opportunities to implement SDM in both the public and private healthcare sectors. Malaysia has a multicultural society and cultural components (such as language differences, medical paternalism, strong family involvement, religious beliefs and complementary medicine) influence medical decision making. In terms of policy, the Ministry of Health has increasingly mentioned patient-centered care as a component of healthcare delivery while the Malaysian Medical Council's guidelines on doctors' duties mentioned collaborative partnerships as a goal of doctor-patient relationships. Current research on SDM comprises baseline surveys of decisional role preferences, development and implementation of locally developed patient decision aids, and conducting of SDM training workshops. Most of this research is carried out by public research universities. In summary, the current state of SDM in Malaysia is still at its infancy. However, there are increasing recognition and efforts from the academic institutions and Ministry of Health to conduct research in SDM, develop patient decision support tools and initiate national discussion on patient involvement in decision making.
OBJECTIVE: To explore factors influencing poor glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes using insulin.
RESEARCH DESIGN: A qualitative method comprising in-depth individual interviews. A semistructured interview guide was used. The interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic approach.
PARTICIPANTS: Seventeen people with type 2 diabetes using insulin with glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) ≥9% for >1 year.
SETTING: The Primary Care Clinic and Diabetes Clinic in the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Malaysia.
RESULTS: Data analysis uncovered four themes: lifestyle challenges in adhering to medical recommendations; psychosocial and emotional hurdles; treatment-related factors; lack of knowledge about and self-efficacy in diabetes self-care.
CONCLUSIONS: Factors that explain the poor glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes using insulin were identified. Healthcare providers could use these findings to address patients' concerns during consultations and help to improve glycaemic control.
Study site: Primary Care Clinic and Diabetes Clinic, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
STUDY DESIGN: Qualitative study using individual in-depth interviews.
OBJECTIVE: To explore the roles of patients, their caregivers and doctors when making decisions on the method of bladder drainage after spinal cord injury (SCI).
SETTING: Five public hospitals in Malaysia.
METHODS: Semistructured (one-to-one) interviews with 17 male patients with SCI, 4 caregivers and 10 rehabilitation professionals.
RESULTS: Eight themes describing the respective decisional roles of patients, their caregivers and doctors emerged from the analysis: patient's right and responsibilities, patient as an informed decision maker, forced to accept decision; surrogate decision maker, silent partner; doctor knows best, over-ride patient's decision, or reluctant decision maker. Both patients and doctors acknowledged the importance of patient autonomy but not all patients had the chance to practice it. Some felt that they were forced to accept the doctor's decision and even alleged that the doctor refused to accept their decision. Doctors considered the caregiver as the decision maker in cases that involved minors, elderly and those with tetraplegia. Some patients considered bladder problems an embarrassing subject to discuss with their caregivers and did not want their involvement. Doctors were described as knowledgeable and were trusted by patients and their caregivers to make the most appropriate option. Some doctors were happy to assume this role whereas some others saw themselves only as information providers.
CONCLUSIONS: A paternalistic model is prevalent in this decision-making process and there is a discrepancy between patients' preferred and actual decisional roles.
BACKGROUND: Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) helps to improve glycemic control and empowerment of people with diabetes. It is particularly useful for people with diabetes who are using insulin as it facilitates insulin titration and detection of hypoglycemia. Despite this, the uptake of SMBG remains low in many countries, including Malaysia.
PURPOSE: This study aimed to explore the barriers and facilitators to SMBG, in people with type 2 diabetes using insulin.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Qualitative methodology was employed to explore participants' experience with SMBG. Semistructured, individual in-depth interviews were conducted on people with type 2 diabetes using insulin who had practiced SMBG, in the primary care clinic of a teaching hospital in Malaysia. Participants were purposively sampled from different age groups, ethnicity, education level, and level of glycemic control (as reflected by the glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c]), to achieve maximum variation in sampling. All interviews were conducted using a topic guide and were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, checked, and analyzed using a thematic approach.
RESULTS: A total of 15 participants were interviewed, and thematic saturation was reached. The factors that influenced SMBG were mainly related to cost, participants' emotion, and the SMBG process. The barriers identified included: frustration related to high blood glucose reading; perception that SMBG was only for insulin titration; stigma; fear of needles and pain; cost of test strips and needles; inconvenience; unconducive workplace; and lack of motivation, knowledge, and self-efficacy. The facilitators were: experiencing hypoglycemic symptoms; desire to see the effects of dietary changes; desire to please the physician; and family motivation.
CONCLUSION: Participants' perceptions of the purpose of SMBG, the emotions associated with SMBG, and the complexity, pain, and cost related to SMBG as well as personal and family motivation are the key factors that health care providers must consider when advising people with diabetes on SMBG.
KEYWORDS: blood glucose self-monitoring; diabetes mellitus; in-depth interviews; qualitative studyStudy site: primary care clinic, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
STUDY DESIGN: Qualitative study using individual in-depth interviews.
OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to explore the factors influencing the choice of bladder management for male patients with spinal cord injury (SCI).
SETTING: Public hospitals in Malaysia.
METHODS: Semistructured (one-on-one) interviews of 17 patients with SCI; 7 were in-patients with a recent injury and 10 lived in the community. All had a neurogenic bladder and were on various methods of bladder drainage. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analyses.
RESULTS: The choice of bladder management was influenced by treatment attributes, patients' physical and psychological attributes, health practitioners' influences and social attributes. Participants were more likely to choose a treatment option that was perceived to be convenient to execute and helped maintain continence. The influence of potential treatment complications on decision making was more variable. Health professionals' and peers' opinions on treatment options had a significant influence on participants' decision. In addition, patients' choices depended on their physical ability to carry out the task, the level of family support received and the anticipated level of social activities. Psychological factors such as embarrassment with using urine bags, confidence in self-catheterization and satisfaction with the current method also influenced the choice of bladder management method.
CONCLUSION: The choice of bladder management in people with SCI is influenced by a variety of factors and must be individualized. Health professionals should consider these factors when supporting patients in making decisions about their treatment options.
Study design: Qualitative study using individual in-depth interviews.
BACKGROUND: Patient decisions are influenced by their personal values. However, there is a lack of clarity and attention on the concept of patient values in the clinical context despite clear emphasis on patient values in evidence-based medicine and shared decision making. The aim of the study was to explore the concept of patient values in the context of making decisions about insulin initiation among people with type 2 diabetes.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted individual in-depth interviews with people with type 2 diabetes who were making decisions about insulin treatment. Participants were selected purposively to achieve maximum variation. A semi-structured topic guide was used to guide the interviews which were audio-recorded and analysed using a thematic approach. We interviewed 21 participants between January 2011 and March 2012. The age range of participants was 28-67 years old. Our sample comprised 9 women and 12 men. Three main themes, 'treatment-specific values', 'life goals and philosophies', and 'personal and social background', emerged from the analysis. The patients reported a variety of insulin-specific values, which were negative and/or positive beliefs about insulin. They framed insulin according to their priorities and philosophies in life. Patients' decisions were influenced by sociocultural (e.g. religious background) and personal backgrounds (e.g. family situations).
CONCLUSIONS: This study highlighted the need for expanding the current concept of patient values in medical decision making. Clinicians should address more than just values related to treatment options. Patient values should include patients' priorities, life philosophy and their background. Current decision support tools, such as patient decision aids, should consider these new dimensions when clarifying patient values.
Study site: patients from public and private, as well as rural and urban settings (including Klinik Kesihatan), Malaysia
BACKGROUND: The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in developing countries. However, glycaemia control remains suboptimal and insulin use is low. One important barrier is the lack of an efficient and effective insulin initiation delivery approach. This study aimed to document the strategies used and proposed by healthcare professionals to improve insulin initiation in the Malaysian dual-sector (public-private) health system.
METHODS: In depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted in Klang Valley and Seremban, Malaysia in 2010-11. Healthcare professionals consisting of general practitioners (n = 11), medical officers (n = 8), diabetes educators (n = 3), government policy makers (n = 4), family medicine specialists (n = 10) and endocrinologists (n = 2) were interviewed. We used a topic guide to facilitate the interviews, which were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic approach.
RESULTS: Three main themes emerged from the interviews. Firstly, there was a lack of collaboration between the private and public sectors in diabetes care. The general practitioners in the private sector proposed an integrated system for them to refer patients to the public health services for insulin initiation programmes. There could be shared care between the two sectors and this would reduce the disproportionately heavy workload at the public sector. Secondly, besides the support from the government health authority, the healthcare professionals wanted greater involvement of non-government organisations, media and pharmaceutical industry in facilitating insulin initiation in both the public and private sectors. The support included: training of healthcare professionals; developing and disseminating patient education materials; service provision by diabetes education teams; organising programmes for patients' peer group sessions; increasing awareness and demystifying insulin via public campaigns; and subsidising glucose monitoring equipment. Finally, the healthcare professionals proposed the establishment of multidisciplinary teams as a strategy to increase the rate of insulin initiation. Having team members from different ethnic backgrounds would help to overcome language and cultural differences when communicating with patients.
CONCLUSION: The challenges faced by a dual-sector health system in delivering insulin initiation may be addressed by greater collaborations between the private and public sectors and governmental and non-government organisations, and among different healthcare professionals.
Study site: Healthcare professionals from three states (Wilayah Federal Territory, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor) and from both urban and semi-rural locations (including Klinik Kesihatan), Malaysia
BACKGROUND: Nationwide surveys have shown that the prevalence of diabetes rates in Malaysia have almost doubled in the past ten years; yet diabetes control remains poor and insulin therapy is underutilized. This study aimed to explore healthcare professionals' views on barriers to starting insulin therapy in people with type 2 diabetes.
METHODS: Healthcare professionals consisting of general practitioners (n = 11), family medicine specialists (n = 10), medical officers (n = 8), government policy makers (n = 4), diabetes educators (n = 3) and endocrinologists (n = 2) were interviewed. A semi-structured topic guide was used to guide the interviews by trained facilitators. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic analysis approach.
RESULTS: Insulin initiation was found to be affected by patient, healthcare professional and system factors. Patients' barriers include culture-specific barriers such as the religious purity of insulin, preferred use of complementary medication and perceived lethality of insulin therapy. Healthcare professionals' barriers include negative attitudes towards insulin therapy and the 'legacy effect' of old insulin guidelines; whilst system barriers highlight the lack of resources, language and communication challenges.
CONCLUSIONS: Tackling the issue of insulin initiation should not only happen during clinical consultations. It requires health education to emphasise the progressive nature of diabetes and the eventuality of insulin therapy at early stage of the illness. Healthcare professionals should be trained how to initiate insulin and communicate effectively with patients from various cultural and religious backgrounds.
Study site: healthcare professionals who provided diabetes care in the three healthcare settings in Malaysia: the government health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan); government university-based primary care clinic and hospital; and private general practice (GP) clinics and hospitals
Men's health concerns have evolved from the traditional andrology and male sexual health to a more holistic approach that encompasses male psychological, social and physical health. The poor state of health in men compared to their female counterparts is well documented. A review of the epidemiological data from Malaysia noted a similar trend in which men die at higher rates in under 1 and above 15 years old groups and most disease categories compared to women. In Malaysia, the main causes of death in men are non-communicable diseases and injuries. Risk factors, such as risk-taking behaviour, smoking and hypertension, are prevalent and amenable to early interventions. Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and prostate disorders are also prevalent. However, many of these morbidities go unreported and are not diagnosed early; therefore, opportunities for early intervention are missed. This reflects poor health knowledge and inadequate health-care utilisation among Malaysian men. Their health-seeking behaviour has been shown to be strongly influenced by family members and friends. However, more research is needed to identify men's unmet health-care needs and to develop optimal strategies for addressing them. Because the Malaysian population is aging and there is an increase in sedentary lifestyles, optimizing men's health will remain a challenge unless effective measures are implemented. The existing male-unfriendly health-care system and the negative influence of masculinity on men's health behaviour must be addressed. A national men's health policy based on a male-friendly approach to health-care delivery is urgently needed to provide a framework for addressing these challenges.
BACKGROUND: Few studies on falls interventions have been conducted in South East Asia. Despite its population ageing rapidly, the acceptability of interventions among the older population in this region remains variable. This study aims to explore views and experiences regarding falls and their prevention among older persons at high risk of falls.
METHOD: Sixteen individuals aged 60 years and over with at least one fall in the preceding 12 months were recruited from our Primary Care clinics. A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews among individuals and focus-groups was conducted. Thematic analyses were conducted on transcriptions of audio-taped interviews using the WeftQDA software. The interviews ceased when data saturation was achieved.
RESULTS: The three themes included older persons' views on falls, help-seeking behaviour and views on falls interventions. Many older persons interviewed did not perceive falls as a serious problem, some reported a stigma surrounding falls, while others felt they had not sustained more serious injuries due to God's grace. Older persons sought traditional medicine and other alternative treatments for pain relief and other fall-related symptoms. Accessibility of healthcare facilities often prevented older persons from receiving physiotherapy or eye tests.
CONCLUSION: The delivery of complex interventions for a multifactorial condition such as falls in the older persons in our setting is inhibited by various cultural barriers, falls perceptions as well as logistic difficulties. Efforts to establish a multi-disciplinary intervention among our older population will need to include strategies to overcome these issues.
KEYWORDS: Accidental falls; Aged; Falls interventions; Falls preventions; Older adults; Qualitative study
Study site: Primary Care Clinics at University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC)
OBJECTIVE: Shared decision-making has been advocated as a useful model for patient management. In developing Asian countries such as Malaysia, there is a common belief that patients prefer a passive role in clinical consultation. As such, the objective of this study was to determine Malaysian patients' role preference in decision-making and the associated factors.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional study.
SETTING: Study was conducted at an urban primary care clinic in Malaysia in 2012.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients aged >21 years were chosen using systematic random sampling.
METHODS: Consenting patients answered a self-administered questionnaire, which included demographic data and their preferred and actual role before and after consultation. Doctors were asked to determine patients' role preference. The Control Preference Scale was used to assess patients' role preference.
PRIMARY OUTCOME: Prevalence of patients' preferred role in decision-making.
SECONDARY OUTCOMES: (1) Actual role played by the patient in decision-making. (2) Sociodemographic factors associated with patients' preferred role in decision-making. (3) Doctors' perception of patients' involvement in decision-making.
RESULTS: The response rate was 95.1% (470/494). Shared decision-making was preferred by 51.9% of patients, followed by passive (26.3%) and active (21.8%) roles in decision-making. Higher household income was significantly associated with autonomous role preference (p=0.018). Doctors' perception did not concur with patients' preferred role. Among patients whom doctors perceived to prefer a passive role, 73.5% preferred an autonomous role (p=0.900, κ=0.006).
CONCLUSIONS: The majority of patients attending the primary care clinic preferred and played an autonomous role in decision-making. Doctors underestimated patients' preference to play an autonomous role.
Study site: Primary care clinic, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia