Primary health eye care knowledge among general practitioners working in the Cape Town metropole
Aim: The main purpose of this study was to determine whether general practitioners (GPs) in the Cape Town metropole have sufficient knowledge to diagnose and treat primary care ophthalmic conditions correctly, and to assess their own perceptions of their levels of knowledge. Secondary objectives included identifying the need for courses to improve the ophthalmic knowledge of GPs and assessing whether there is a need to revise the undergraduate curriculum in ophthalmology in general.
Method: A cross-sectional survey was done. A questionnaire of 10 primary care level ophthalmology questions, including a self-assessment section, was sent to each of 140 randomly chosen GPs in Cape Town.
Results: A response rate of 79.2% was obtained. Respondents included graduates from all eight medical schools in South Africa. Most of the responding GPs were practising for more than 10 years (78.2%). The mean test score was 52.5% (standard deviation [SD]: 22.2). The mean self-rating was 51.9% (SD: 14.5). There was no statistically significant difference between the test score and the self-rating score (p = 0.5840). Responding GPs felt that there is a need for ophthalmology up-skilling courses and 99.9% of them would attend such courses. Also, 82% of GPs felt that primary care doctors, not optometrists, should deliver primary eye care. Conclusion: GPs appear to lack sufficient knowledge to manage primary health eye care problems, presumably due to a lack of adequate training in the field. Clinical up-skilling courses are needed to improve core knowledge in ophthalmology.
Keywords: survey; ophthalmology; general practitioners