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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

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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Josiane Tantchou

The aim of this study was (a) to use anthropological research tools to produce a thorough description of health providers' working conditions in a low-income country; (b) sketch the impact of a specific dimension of the national HIV/AIDS programme on this environment and (c) sketch the existence and examine the extent of burnout among health workers. We conducted intensive fieldwork in a large public hospital in one major town of the far-north region. We relied on three research tools: observations, in-depth interviews and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The data were analysed manually. We found a working environment characterised by an acute lack of equipment, lack of recognition and equity, lack of community and fairness, and value conflict, all of which are factors implicated in burnout. This was exacerbated by the implementation of a psychosocial dimension in care for people with HIV/AIDS, which created exclusion and reinforced feelings of unfairness. However, despite their challenging working environment, health-care providers were not 'burned out', leading us to suggest that burnout is a syndrome of 'rigid' working environments, as opposed to 'porous' working environments.