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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy awareness within a doctor population

Hyperbaric medicine is a relatively young specialty that remains in the blind spot of most doctors’ awareness. This study endeavors to identify the level of awareness of the indications for hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy among a doctor population in a developed country and factors which may improve referral rates. An anonymized questionnaire was distributed to doctors licensed to practice in Malta. Questions included physician specialty, demographics and previous exposure to diving and/or hyperbaric medicine. Moreover, two scoring systems were used to score subjects on HBO2-related topics. Binomial logistic regression models and generalized linear models were used in the statistical analysis. A total of 152 full replies were obtained and analyzed. Respondents who had visited a hyperbaric unit (HBU) (p=0.002) or attended a lecture on HBO2 (p=0.006) scored better than their counterparts, indicating better awareness of HBO2 indications and local chamber location. A previous HBU visit (p=0.001), being a hospital-based doctor (p=0.027) and a history of scuba diving (p=0.03) were associated with willingness to refer patients for HBO2 in the future. Encouraging visits to an HBU has been shown to be associated with multiple factors, which are expected to result in improved referral rates. Targeted educational sessions to doctors and medical students are likely to be beneficial in improving correct referral of patients for HBO2. The findings from this study may prove useful in improving appropriate referral rates of patients who may benefit from this useful treatment modality.

DOI: 10.22462/01.03.2020.5