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Saudi Patients and Health Care Providers

Divergent Perceptions of Illnesses and Their Symptoms

Mohamed Harakati, Faissal Shaheen, Hani Tamim, Saadi Taher, Adel Al. Qublan and Abdulla Al Sayyari

Keywords: discordance; disease; ethnic groups; health care providers; psychosomatic symptoms; Saudi Arabia; symptom ranking

This cross-sectional survey study analyses the degree of concordance between Saudi patients and their nurses and physicians in four areas: (1) perceived causation of diseases and drivers of cure, (2) symptom ranking and perception, (3) views on social habits and traditional medicine, and (4) assessment of health care providers' empathy. The doctors and nurses were asked to predict their patients' responses to the survey. Significant divergence was found between the patients' responses and the health care providers' predictions. Cultural and background differences between the two groups, as well as a large educational gap, might account for this disparity. Such discordance could conceivably lead to wrong diagnoses being made, due to the different levels of importance that patients and doctors accord to symptoms.

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