Background. Patients' expectations and perceptions of the medical encounter and interactions are important tools in diabetes management. Some problems regarding the interaction during encounters may be related to a lack of communication skills on the part of either the physician or the patient. This study aimed at exploring the perceptions of type 2 diabetes patients regarding the medical encounters and quality of interactions with their primary health-care providers. Methods. Four focus group discussions (two women and two men groups) were conducted among 27 purposively selected patients (13 men and 14 women) from six primary health-care centres in Muscat, Oman. Qualitative content analysis was applied. Results. The patients identified some weaknesses regarding the patient-provider communication like: unfriendly welcoming; interrupted consultation privacy; poor attention and eye contact; lack of encouraging the patients to ask questions on the providers' side; and inability to participate in medical dialogue or express concerns on the patients' side. Other barriers and difficulties related to issues of patient-centeredness, organization of diabetes clinics, health education and professional competency regarding diabetes care were also identified. Conclusion. The diabetes patients' experiences with the primary health-care providers showed dissatisfaction with the services. We suggest appropriate training for health-care providers with regard to diabetes care and developing of communication skills with emphasis on a patient-centred approach. An efficient use of available resources in diabetes clinics and distributing responsibilities between team members in close collaboration with patients and their families seems necessary. Further exploration of the providers' work situation and barriers to good interaction is needed. Our findings can help the policy makers in Oman, and countries with similar health systems, to improve the quality and organizational efficiency of diabetes care services.
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