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Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2012 Feb;12(1):25-32. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

Sociodemographic and Clinical Characteristics of Patients attending Psychotherapy in a Tertiary Care Hospital in Oman.

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Department of Behavioural Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman;



There is significant evidence that psychotherapy is a pivotal treatment for persons diagnosed with Axis I clinical psychiatric conditions; however, a psychotherapy service has only recently been established in the Omani health care system. This study aimed to investigate the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of attendees at a psychotherapy clinic at a tertiary care hospital.


An analysis was carried out of 133 new referrals to the Psychotherapy Service at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, a tertiary care hospital.


The majority of referrals were females (59%), aged 18-34 years, employed (38%), had ≤12 years of formal education (51%), and were single (54%). A total of 43% were treated for anxiety disorders (including obsessive compulsive disorder), while 22% were treated for depression. A total of 65% were prescribed psychotropic medications. The utilisation of the Psychotherapy Service and its user characteristics are discussed within the context of a culturally diverse Omani community which has unique personal belief systems such as in supernatural powers (Jinn), contemptuous envy (Hassad), evil eye (Ain) and sorcery (Sihr) which are often used to explain the aetiology of mental illness and influence personal decisions on utilising medical and psychological treatments.


Despite the low number of referrals to the Psychotherapy Service, there is reason to believe that psychotherapy would be an essential tool to come to grips with the increasing number of mental disorders in Oman.


Anxiety; Culture; Depression; Oman; Psychotherapy

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