Background and Goal of Study: Despite the significance of anaesthesiology as a medical specialty, there is inadequate public knowledge regarding this specialty in Croatia.
In this study we wanted to find out current patients' and other healthcare providers' opinions about anaesthetic procedures and the exact role of anaesthesiologists.
Materials and Methods: A self-administered structured questionnaire was designed, and validated. The questionnaire was delivered electronically via e-mail addresses to general practitioners (GP) during period from September to November 2010. Response rate was 62%.
Results and Discussion: According to the survey, 51.6% of patients discussed with their GPs about the upcoming surgery. Patients generally do not differentiate the anaesthetic procedure as a separate procedure to the surgical one, and consequently they rarely ask about it separately. The top three patients' fears associated with anaesthesia were: the fear of not waking up from anaesthesia, the fear of pain after surgery and the fear of waking up during surgery.
48.3% of GPs believed that patients were not aware of the different types and techniques of anaesthesia.
52% of GPs responded that patients sometimes asked about the complications of the surgical procedure, and at the same time, they were not aware of potential anaesthetic complications.
74.1% of GPs believed that patients did not differ surgical from the anaesthetic procedure.
74.2% of GPs believed that patients were not aware that postoperative treatment in the intensive care unit was run by anaesthesiologists.
GPs were familiar with different anaesthetic techniques but most believed they needed more information about anaesthesiology and that more effort was needed to improve image of anaesthesiology as a profession among general population (93.5%).
Conclusion: Patients in Croatia have poor knowledge about anaesthesiologists and their roles. GPs are aware of the poor image of anaesthesiologists among general population.
These findings should motivate anaesthesiologists to enhance their image in general public. Anaesthesiologists should expose themselves more to their patients, potentially through the use of the media and internet.