Purpose: Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) screening among Palestinian diabetic patients is limited. To improve the care of our patients, we explored the barriers to DR screening with a qualitative study.
Methods: Three focus groups were conducted in the northern West Bank. Patients noncompliant with DR screening were recruited from Primary Health Care clinics. Questions were adapted from similar published studies. Informed consent was obtained and group discussions were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes by three researchers.
Results: Most patients reported financial barriers including the costs of the exam and additional treatments, and transportation to the referral clinic. System related issues were the difficulty of getting appointments and long wait times due to inadequate numbers of ophthalmologists or screening facilities, and physicians failing to recommend screening. Personal concerns related to patients having other priorities, fears about the results, and the negative experiences of family members. Finally, cultural aspects included the stigma of wearing glasses and not doing a test for a condition without symptoms.
Conclusions: Barriers to completing retinopathy screening are multidimensional with financial, personal, educational, health system, and cultural factors. These should be taken into consideration by policy makers in order to increase the uptake and quality of service.