Lack of confidence in administering emergency care among Dutch-speaking family physicians in Belgium
Erwin Van De Vijver, Dirk Devroey
Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Department of Family Medicine, Brussels, Belgium
Background: Practical knowledge of emergency medical care among physicians seems to be insufficient worldwide. Research specifically aimed at family physicians is rather scarce. Additionally, in Belgium there are no data on this subject.
Purposes: Our aim was to ascertain how confident Belgian family physicians feel about their ability to give adequate emergency care and to examine their assessment of their knowledge of relevant medical conditions.
Methods: We used a web-based questionnaire for which a convenience sample of 974 Dutch-speaking family practitioners was invited through email. The survey assessed how these physicians perceived their own emergency skills and their knowledge of relevant medical conditions.
Results: The survey had a recruitment rate of 22% (n = 210), with a 75% completion rate. The minimum criteria formulated pertaining to skills and knowledge were met by 64% and 55% of the participants, respectively. The mean cumulative scores on skills and knowledge were 2.5 and 3.2, respectively (on a scale from 0 to 4). Physicians with additional training in emergency care (3.07 versus 2.72), or with a spirometry certificate (2.94 versus 2.72) scored better than those without. Practitioners from rural areas felt more confident than those from urbanized regions (3.25 versus 3.15). Physicians felt more competent in aspects of emergency care where they had experience.
Conclusion: Almost half of the Dutch-speaking family physicians in Belgium felt insufficiently competent to offer emergency medical care.
Keywords: emergency medical care, family physician, Dutch, Belgium, medical training
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