Objectives: Pathways to care or care-seeking, which translate into healthcare utilisation, have been investigated in many parts of the world, but there is a dearth of studies in the Arabian Gulf. The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics of attendees at primary healthcare centres in northern Oman and their reasons for visiting. Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 676 participants attending 12 primary healthcare centres between June and July 2006. The catchment area was selected to represent the population structure in Oman. The 12-item questionnaire was read to every fifth eligible patient entering each healthcare centre for a routine appointment. Analyses were conducted using univariate statistics. Results: About a third (n = 200; 29.6%) of the participants had a history of chronic illness; 231 (34%) were on regular medications; 211 (31%) were taking part in health education programmes; 130 (19%) were open to complementary medicine. The majority of the participants mentioned physician's advice (n = 570; 84%) as the strongest reason for seeking consultation. Conversely, physician's advice was strongly related to particular demographic factors. Conclusion: This observational study identified some characteristics and reasons for visiting healthcare facilities in northern Oman. These are discussed within the context of prevailing sociocultural factors. The implications for the prevention and detection of ill health in Oman are also discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas