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Misconceptions about diabetes mellitus among adult male attendees of primary health care centres in Eastern Saudi Arabia

A.A Sabra
A.Z Taha
A.J Al-Zubier
N.Y Al-Kurashi


Background: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a major public health problem in Saudi Arabia. Its prevalence is on the increase, being as high as 23.7% among adult citizens. Misconceptions and wrong beliefs regarding DM and its management among those attending primary health care centres (PHCCs) can result in poor control, more complications and increased
incidence of morbidity and mortality.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in eight randomly selected PHCCs in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The study population comprised all adult male attendees older than 15 years. The total number of attendees interviewed was 1 030, giving a response rate of 84.1%. Data were collected through an interviewer-administered
questionnaire pertaining to the following: socio-demographic characteristics, misconceptions of PHCC attendees about DM regarding the aetiology, general concepts, diabetic diet, treatment and herbal treatment. Chi-square and logistic regression were used for statistical analysis.
Results: The majority of the attendees were Saudi (92%) of young age (15–34 years; 60.7%). Only 12% had DM. A high proportion of the attendees had misconceptions about the aetiology of DM (21.2%), general concepts of the disease (13.8%) and the diet of diabetic patients (10.7%). Moreover, 11.8% of the attendees had misconceptions about all aspects
of DM. The factors that were found to be independently and significantly associated with increased levels of misconception were a low level of education (OR = 0.752) and lower family income (OR = 0.684).
Conclusion: There is a great need for continuous health education of PHCC attendees in general and regarding diabetics in particular to raise their knowledge and awareness of DM. This can be done by all primary health care team members.

Keywords: misconceptions; diabetes mellitus; primary health care centres; attendees; Saudi Arabia