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Niger Postgrad Med J. 2019 Apr-Jun;26(2):87-93. doi: 10.4103/npmj.npmj_13_19.

Patient-Doctor relationship in underserved environment: A cross-sectional study of attitudinal orientation, practice inclination, barriers and benefits among medical practitioners in Abia State, Nigeria.

Author information

Department of Family Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Nigeria.
Department of Family Medicine, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Department of Community Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Department of Community Medicine, Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.
Department of Anaesthesiology, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Nigeria.



Healthcare has become complex requiring balance of ever-increasing demands on physicians against humanness of medicine. As the impetus for the delivery of patient-centred care grows, there is need to study the attitude and practice orientations of medical practitioners to patient-doctor relationship (PDR). The study was aimed at describing the attitude, practice, barriers and benefits of PDR among medical practitioners in Abia State.

Participants and Methods:

A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out on 210 medical practitioners in Abia State who were consecutively recruited for the study. Data were collected using self-administered questionnaire that elicited information on attitude, practice, barriers and benefits of PDR. Attitude was assessed with the 18-item Patient-Practitioner Orientation Scale (PPOS) with subscales of caring and sharing.


The age of the participants ranged from 26 to 77 years with the mean of 36 ± 8.4 years. There were 173 (82.4%) male. The caring attitude score (mean = 3.57 ± 0.80) was higher than sharing (mean = 3.42 ± 0.65) (P = 0.036). Practice was predominantly doctor-centred (86.7%) than patient-centred (64.3%, P < 0.0001). The most common barrier to PDR was patient-doctor communication, while the most common benefit of PDR was improvement in patient satisfaction. Medical practitioners with duration of practice <10 years had significantly higher mean scores in attitudinal subscale of caring when compared with those with duration of practice ≥10 years (P < 0.0001). The study participants with duration of practice ≥10 years had significantly higher adequate practice (75.0%) of patient-centred care when compared with their counterparts with duration of practice <10 years (47.6%) (P = 0.00005).


The attitude to caring did not translate to comparative disposition to sharing. The practice was more doctor-centred than patient-centred. The most common barrier and benefit of PDR were communication drawbacks and improvement in patient satisfaction, respectively. Duration of practice was associated with caring attitude and practice of patient-centred care, respectively.


Attitude; Nigeria; barriers; benefits; medical practitioners; practice patient–doctor relationship

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