Communicating with mismatch and tension: Treatment provision experiences of primary care doctors treating patients with overactive bladder in Hong Kong

Judy Y M SIU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common chronic bladder dysfunction worldwide. As the first contact point of health care, primary health care providers are often consulted by patients seeking initial consultation for OAB. The relatively short history of the existence of OAB in medicine and low public awareness of OAB in Hong Kong, however, often serve as a challenge to primary health care providers in treating patients with OAB. The experiences of patients and health care providers are often influenced by the interaction between these two groups, hence both health care providers and patients are key determinants of the entire treatment experience, and the perspectives of health care providers should not be overlooked. However, patient experiences have been the main focus of related studies, few of which have examined the treatment provision experiences and perspectives of health care providers. This research gap is notable considering that the satisfaction and morale of health care providers can influence treatment outcome. Methods: This study adopted a qualitative research approach by conducting semistructured individual interviews with 30 private practice primary care doctors in Hong Kong between November 2013 and May 2014. Results: Lacking confidence in treating OAB patients, encountering mismatch with patients in treatment expectations and communication style, and feeling embarrassed when communicating with OAB patients were the experiences reported by the sampled doctors. Conclusion: The sampled doctors' treatment provision experiences revealed a general lack of knowledge about OAB among primary care doctors in Hong Kong. Furthermore, the negative stereotype of and lack of trust in private practice doctors created tension between the doctors and patients. This lack of mutual trust was particularly unfavourable for the doctors to provide long-term treatment and support to patients with OAB. The embedded distrust of private practice doctors also affected the prescribing behaviour of the doctors, who prescribed medication only to satisfy patient demands, which may lead to antibiotic abuse and resistance. Finally, the expectations of doctor professionalism and behaviour in Chinese cultures and the cultural perceptions of urinary diseases caused challenging treatment provision experiences for the sampled doctors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Family Practice

User-Defined Keywords

  • Hong Kong
  • Overactive bladder patients
  • Primary care doctors
  • Treatment provision experiences


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