A qualitative study of young Nigerian family physicians’ views of their specialty
Background: In Nigeria, the specialty of family medicine (FM) has endured its own share of identity crises. This study was aimed at generating hypotheses about what describes a practising family physician (FP) and the specialty, according to young Nigerian FPs.
Methods: Using the online platform for young African FPs alongside text messages and emails from volunteer research assistants over an eight-week period (March 3 to April 30, 2015), a purposive sample of young Nigerian FPs were asked to describe their favourite aspect of FM in a single word/phrase. Responses were provided in English/individual’s mother tongue. Translation of the words was performed by respondents and additional collaborators fluent in these languages. Thematic analysis using the grounded theory approach was performed.
Results: Twenty-four responses were received consisting of four themes: Scope, Family, Skills/Feelings/Values, and Professional Fulfilment. The resulting data portrayed the FP as one who possesses a unique skill-set, enjoys fulfilment in the profession, deals with undifferentiated diseases and is able to provide holistic care for patients (irrespective of age and gender) from a familycentred perspective. When compared with accepted domains of FM for Africa and Europe, roles of the FP in community-oriented care and primary care management were absent.
Conclusion: While this showcases the young Nigerian FPs’ acceptance of their role in providing comprehensive primary care, it suggests a lesser acceptance of their role in community-oriented primary care as well as primary care management. This study provides a basis for future, quantitative research describing attitudes and competence in these areas.
Keywords: family practice, grounded theory, identity crisis, Nigeria, primary health care