A Survey of the Training and Working Arrangements of General Practitioners Providing Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Care in a Rural Area of Maharashtra State

31 Dec 2022

Background: Chronic respiratory diseases (CRD), especially asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are common public health problems resulting in a substantial burden of disease for individuals. There is a need to understand the perceptions and practices of primary care physicians (“general practitioners [GPs]”) who provide most of the health care in rural India. We surveyed all private and public practitioners listed as practising in a rural area of Western India with the aim of identifying GPs (GPs: graduates, registered and allowed to practice in India) to understand their training, working arrangements, and asthma/COPD workload. Methodology: We administered a short questionnaire at educational meetings or via e-mail to all private and public practitioners listed as providing community-based services in the Junnar block, Pune district, Maharashtra. The survey asked about qualifications, experience, and working arrangements, and about current asthma and COPD workload. A descriptive analysis was performed. Results: We approached 474 practitioners (434 from private sector and 40 from public sector). Eighty-eight were no longer practising in the study area. The response rate was 330/354 (93.2%) of private and 28/32 (87.5%) of public sector practitioners. We excluded 135 nonrespiratory hospital specialists and 23 private practitioners whose highest qualification was a diploma. Our final sample of 200 GPs (70% males) was 177 from private sector and 23 from public sector. The private GPs had more experience in clinical practice in comparison to public GPs (18.6 vs. 12.8 years). Eighty-four percent of GPs from the private sector only had Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) qualifications, though >90% provided “modern medicine” services. In the public sector, 43.5% GPs only had AYUSH qualifications, though all provided “modern medicine” services. A minority (9% of private GPs and 16% of public GPs) provided both services. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of private GPs had inpatient facilities compared to only 9% of public sector GPs. In both sectors, more GPs stated that they managed people with asthma than treated COPD (Private: 97% vs. 75%; Public 87% vs. 57%). Conclusion: Many GPs practising “modern medicine” only had qualifications in Ayurveda/Homeopathy and fewer GPs are involved in the management of COPD as compared to asthma. These are important factors that form the context for initiatives seeking to improve the quality of community-based care for people with CRD in Maharashtra state in India.

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Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • Asthma
  • COPD
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Dhiraj Agarwal, Makrand Ghorpade, Pam Smith, Sanjay Juvekar, Hilary Pinnock