Knowledge, attitudes and practices of diabetic retinopathy among medical officers in the regional Hospital of Ghana
Background: Diabetic retinopathy is responsible for 4.8% of blindness worldwide and is largely preventable. It is diagnosed by performing a retinal examination and early treatment would depend on an early referral to an eye care personnel by the primary doctors of diabetic patients. In Ghana, these doctors include house officers and medical officers. Objective: To assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of diabetic retinopathy amongst medical and house officers in the regional hospitals of Ghana. Study type: Cross-sectional study. Methodology: House officers and medical officers in the ten (10) regional hospitals of Ghana were included in the study. After signing a written consent form, participants filled a self administered questionnaire. The data collected was statistically analyzed using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) version nine software. Results: Ninety- one medical and house officers participated in the study with a male to female ratio of 2.1:1. There were 31 medical officers and 60 house officers.Participants had poor knowledge about risk factors for DR with only 46.2% and 28.6% mentioning hypertension and duration of DM as factors although 86.8% knew of the level of glycaemic control. Knowledge of the treatment options for DR was poor. Fifty five percent of participants knew about laser photocoagulation whilst 12.1% and 27.5% mentioned surgical and medical modalities respectively. Knowledge of the systemic implications of DR was good with 80.2% being aware that nephropathy was another complication of DM whilst 96% of participants agreed that the presence of retinopathy could indicate the presence of other complications of DM. In terms of practice, only 34% of the doctors tested the vision of their diabetic patients within a year and 17.6% did retinal examinations Only 33% had access to an ophthalmoscope and respondents who had access to ophthalmoscopes were more likely to do retinal examinations. Attitudes towards retinal examination for DR were positive. About 92% of respondents agreed that fundus examinations by non ophthalmologists could help detect DR. Conclusions: The participants had gaps in their knowledge but good attitudes on DR that did not translate into good practice.