Background: A good patient-physician interaction is particularly important in chronic diseases like diabetes. There are so far no published data regarding the interaction between the primary health-care providers and patients with type 2 diabetes in Oman, where diabetes is a major and growing health problem. This study aimed at exploring how health-care providers interact with patients with type 2 diabetes at primary health-care level in Muscat, Oman, focusing on the consultation environment, and some aspects of care and information. Methods: Direct observations of 90 consultations between 23 doctors and 13 diabetes nurses concerned with diabetes management during their consultations with type 2 diabetes patients in six primary health-care centres in the Muscat region, using checklists developed from the National Diabetes Guidelines. Consultations were assessed as optimal if more than 75% of observed aspects were fulfilled and sub-optimal if less than 50% were fulfilled. Results: Overall 52% of the doctors' consultations were not optimal. Some important aspects for a positive consultation environment were fulfilled in only about half of the doctors' consultations: ensuring privacy of consultation (49%), eye contact (49%), good attention (52%), encouraging asking questions (47%), and emphasizing on the patients' understanding of the provided information (52%). The doctors enquired about adverse effects of anti-diabetes drugs in less than 10% of consultations. The quality of the nurses' consultations was sub-optimal in about 75% of 85 consultations regarding aspects of consultation environment, care and information. Conclusion: The performance of the primary health-care doctors and diabetes nurses needs to be improved. The role of the diabetes nurses and the teamwork should be enhanced. We suggest a multidisciplinary team approach, training and education to the providers to upgrade their skills regarding communication and care. Barriers to compliance with the guidelines need to be further explored. Improving the work situation mainly for the diabetes nurses and further improvement in the organizational efficiency of diabetes services such as lowering the number of patients in diabetes clinic, are suggested.
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