Journal of
Medical Laboratory and Diagnosis

  • Abbreviation: J. Med. Lab. Diagn.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2618
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMLD
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 53

Full Length Research Paper

Health professionals’ stance towards medical laboratory technology: A cross-sectional study

Awoke Derbie
  • Awoke Derbie
  • Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar
Daniel Mekonnen
  • Daniel Mekonnen
  • Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar


  •  Received: 15 April 2017
  •  Accepted: 26 May 2017
  •  Published: 30 June 2017

 ABSTRACT

The practice of modern medicine would be impossible without the tests performed in the clinical laboratory. In today’s era of rapidly evolving medical research and application, medical laboratory technology plays an integral role in the health care system. In spite of this, the propensity of giving less value to the profession by certain health practitioners might reduce the health team mobilization which eventually could affect health service for patients. The aim of the present study was to describe the stance of health professionals towards medical laboratory technology. An institutional based cross-sectional survey was carried out among health professionals working in Jimma University Specialized Hospital (JUSH) and Training Health Centers (THCs), between February, 2014 and March, 2014. Anonymous self-administered structured questionnaire was used to generate data on: socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents and their attitude towards medical laboratory technology. Participants were asked to rate their response using 3-5 point Likert scale in order of importance. Out of 135 questionnaires that were distributed, 108 were completed and returned giving an overall response rate of 80%. The study revealed that 81 (75%) of the respondents showed favorable attitude towards medical laboratory technology. Specifically, 85.7, 81.3 and 72% of physicians, health officers and nurses, respectively, demonstrated favorable attitude. On top of this, 68.5% of subjects believed that medical professionals’ laboratory contribution to better patient management was ‘very important’. However, 12 (11.1%) of the respondents had unfavorable attitude and have indicated some unwelcome behaviors. Although,  majority of the study subjects had a favorable attitude towards medical laboratory technology, the observed unfavorable response may affect team spirit and quality care received by patients. Promotion of team training may enhance team sprit among the health care members which ultimately improves the quality of patient care.

Key words: Attitude, medical laboratory technology, health professionals, Ethiopia.

Abbreviation: HO, Health Officer; JUSH, Jimma University Specialized Hospital; MD,    medical doctor; SPSS, statistical package for social sciences; THC, training health center.

 INTRODUCTION

Health care service involves a range of professionals [(Ker et al., 20031]). Health care service involves a range  of professionals (Ker et al., 2003) who work together to determine the  presence,  extent  or  absence  of  disease and provide data needed to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment (Ker et al., 2003; Wayne and Dale, 2001; Dargahi et al., 2012).
 
Making a clinical diagnosis with subsequent laboratory confirmation is part of the art of medicine. Among allied health care providers, medical laboratory technology is one of the most important fields that gives the service on a scientific foundation by providing accurate information to those responsible for treating patients, deciding health priorities and allocating resource, monitoring the development and spread of infectious pathogens, and to those deciding effective control measures against major prevalent disease [(Cheesbrough, 20091981;4, Bashawri et al., 20065]). Without reliable medical laboratory support; :, patients are less likely to receive the best possible care, resistance to essential drugs will continue to spread, the source of disease may not be identified correctly, epidemics and spread of major communicable diseasewill not be cleared reliably. and valuable financed and human resource may be diverted to ineffective control measures [(Cheesbrough, 20091981; 4, WHO, 20116])Collaboration among different health professionals in health provision facilities is an essential tool of developing professionalism [(Dargahi et al., 20123]). In this era when the clinical laboratory is becoming heart vital in the hospital and community setting, it is crucially important that health professionals should have a clear meaning and idea of medical laboratory profession. As one member of the healthcare group knows little about the other, communication may break and so do a collaboration. will not be cleared reliably (Cheesbrough, 1981; WHO, 2011).
 
Collaboration among different health professionals in health provision facilities is an essential tool of developing professionalism (Dargahi et al., 2012). In this era when the clinical laboratory is becoming vital in the hospital and community setting, it is crucially important that health professionals should have a clear meaning and idea of medical laboratory profession. As one member of the healthcare group knows little about the other, communication may break and so do a collaboration.
 
In Ethiopia, the profession of medical laboratory science is one of the most under-recognized parts. The actual interaction in Ethiopia between medical lab professionals and the rest of healthcare members is not clearly indicated and explored. But in both clinical and public health medicines, medical lab professionals provide diagnostic activities to be consumed utilized by clinicians or other professionals.
 
There are a number of health professionals in Ethiopia who belief believe that it is possible to reach on patient diagnosis predominantly based on only clinical data regardless of the information obtained from medical laboratory department (unpublished data). Yet, no study was conducted in the country concerning the attitude of health professionals towards medical laboratory technology.
Therefore, the purpose of this survey was to gain an understanding of the attitude of health professionals towards medical laboratory technology.
 
The specific objectives were to determine the following: how much of health professionals believe that information obtained from medical laboratory technology is important in routine patient diagnosis? How professionals rate their work relation with medical laboratory lab professionals? Which other factors could influence professionals’ attitude towards medical laboratory lab technology?
 
The present study was conducted to fill this gap and the finding will also be used as baseline information for The present study was conducted to fill this gap and the finding will also be used as baseline information for further similar studies.

 


 MATERIALS AND METHODS

 

Study setting and period
 
To address the above mattersobjectives, this cross -sectional survey was carried out among medical and other health professionals working in Jimma University Specialized Hospital (JUSH) and Training Health Centers (THCs) between February, 2014 and  to March, 2014.  Jimma town is located in the Southwest part of Ethiopia, about 335 km away from the capital Addis Ababa. The THCs are situated about 60 km radius around Jimma town which were designed to provide health service for the surrounding community and team training program for Jimma University graduating class  health science students . To address the above objectives, this cross-sectional survey was carried out among medical and other health professionals working in Jimma University Specialized Hospital (JUSH) and Training Health Centers (THCs) between February, 2014 and March, 2014.  Jimma town is located in the Southwest part of Ethiopia, about 335 km away from the capital Addis Ababa. The THCs are situated about 60 km radius around Jimma town which were designed to provide health service for the surrounding community and team training program for Jimma University graduating class  health science students.
 
Sample size, sampling technique and data collection
 
All health professionals who were volunteered to participate in the study  during the data collection period were included conveniently in the present study. The Sself-administered anonymous structured questionnaire, filled by the respondents,  was used to generate data on the socio­-demographic characteristics of the respondents and their attitude towards medical laboratory technology. 
 
A three to five-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree), was created for some of the questions. There were fill-in the blanks, yes/no questions and multiple-choice responses. To avoid response bias, medical laboratory professionals were excluded from the study.  Data was collected under the supervision of the chief investigator and was completed    preferably   at    the    convenient    time    of    the    study    subjects.  Generated data were compiled and analyzed with SPSS v20.  Frequency tables, charts and descriptive summary measures were used to present data. during the data collection period were included conveniently in the present study. The self-administered anonymous structured questionnaire, filled by the respondents, was used to generate data on the socio¬-demographic characteristics of the respondents and their attitude towards medical laboratory technology. A three to five-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree), was created for some of the questions. There were fill-in the blanks, yes/no questions and multiple-choice responses. To avoid response bias, medical laboratory professionals were excluded from the study.  Data was collected under the supervision of the chief investigator and was completed preferably at the convenient time of the study subjects. Generated data were compiled and analyzed with SPSS v20.  Frequency tables, charts and descriptive summary measures were used to present data.
 
Operational definition
 
Favorable attitude:
 
whenWhen participants responded positive answers for to ≥>75% of the questions they have were provided, it was considered as favorable attitude.
 
Ethical considerations
 
The study was reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of Jimma. After Before the research, staff explained about the purpose and importance of the study, written informed consent was obtained from each study subjects. Individual records were coded and accessed only by research staff
 

 


 RESULTS

Socio-demographic data
 
A total of 108 professionals have returned the questionnaire, making the response rate 80%. The majority : 70 (64.8%), were males. Most of the respondents were nurses, 44 (40.7%) and physicians, 21 (19.4%). The mean age of the participant was 25.5 years. Most of the respondents, were males. Most of the respondents were nurses, 44 (40.7%) and physicians, 44 (40.7%) and 21 (19.4%) respectively. The mean age of the participant was 25.5 years. Most of the respondents, 36 (33.3%) had a service year of ≤1 year ithyear with mean service year of 4.7 (Table 1).
 
 
Attitude towards medical laboratory profession
 
The MMajority of the respondents, 82 (75.9%) had a favorable attitude towards medical laboratory technology, in contrast, 12 (11.1%) of them had unfavorable attitude and the rest, 14 (13%) were unable to decide.  When percentage with in a category was observed separately, 18 (85.7%) of physicians, 13 (81.3%) health officers (HO) and 32 (72.7%) nurses have indicated favorable attitude (Figure 1).
 
 
Of the respondents, 74 (68.5%) believed that medical laboratory professionals contribution to the good patient outcome is ‘very important’, the rest, 34 (31.5%) believed it is ‘good’. From those who believed medical laboratory professionals contribution to the good patient outcome is very important, the physicians took the lead, 17 (80%) followed by health officers, 12 (75%) (Table 2).
 
 
Most of the study participants, 53 (49.1%) disclosed that medical laboratory lab professionals (laboratorians) working in their health institution were ‘fairly competent’, 43 (39.8%) of them reported as that they were ‘competent’ and the rest, 12 (11.1%) noted that they were ‘incompetent’ (Table 3).  The  respondents  work  relation with laboratory professionals was rated as excellent, very good, good and bad, respectively with these percentage: 16 (14.8 %), 24 (22.2%), 37 (34.3%) and 12 they were ‘competent’ and the rest 12 (11.1%) noted as they were ‘incompetent’. (Table 3) The respondents work relation with laboratory professionals was rated as excellent, very good, good and bad respectively with these percentage 16 (14.8 %), 24 (22.2%), 37 (34.3%) and 12 (11.1 %). The rest reported, as fairly good. When the first three rates are considered together as ‘good’, it accounts for 71.3% (Table 4) 
 
 
The degree in which medical laboratory professionals exchange valid data with those who utilize it in a timely fashion was rated as good, fairly good and poor which respectively accounts accounted for 56 (51.9%), 18 (16.7%) and 17 (15.7%). Most of the respondents, 59 (54.7%) believed that the salary and incentive that the medical laboratory lab professionals obtained was unsatisfactory. Regarding the reason why laboratory service facility in Ethiopia is very weak, the participants disclosed the following; shortage of equipment and supplies, shortage of qualified personnel, poor maintenance system, lack of close follow up and supervision and lack of public health leadership that accounted for 34.9, 18.3 17.3, 16.2 and Regarding the reason why laboratory service facility in Ethiopia is very weak, the participants disclosed the following; shortage of equipment and supplies, shortage of qualified personnel, poor maintenance system, lack of close follow up and supervision and lack of public health leadership that accounted for 34.9%, 18.3% 17.3%, 16.2% and 13.3%, respectively.Asked theThe possible reason why laboratory service faces different problems in developing countries was asked, the participants  rated the following; weak integration of
 science (38.8%), lack of public health leadership (31.3%) and inadequate human resource (29.9%). 


 DISCUSSION

Among the non-respondents, medical specialists and general medical practitioners accounted for the highest number; this might be related to their relative high work load. The medical laboratory profession becomes the heart of hospitals today. The Ppractice of modern medicine is impossible without the aid of medical laboratory professionals [(Medical Laboratory Science, 20057]) this might be the reason why more than three- quarters of the respondents in this study have demonstrated favorable attitude for towards medical laboratory lab technology. Even though there was no related literature found against which this finding could be compared, the observed unfavorable attitude (12; (11.1%), could affect health professionals’ team spirit.
 
Competence in one’s area of expertise is a major prerequisite to for harmonious interdisciplinary team work. Accurate laboratory test results depend on staff being competent in performing a range of procedures that occur throughout the entire examination process [(WHO, 20116]). Almost half, 53 (49.1%) of the respondents believed that laboratory lab professionals working in their institution were fairly competent and 12 (11.2%) of the subjects responded that laboratory lab professionals were as incompetent. Some medical laboratory lab professionals’ perceived incompetency especially by the physician and nurses might contribute to develop an unfavorable attitude towards laboratory profession.
 
The final goal of health team is to provide appropriate and relevant patient care, a disagreement that could exist within a team in health service unit that has the potential to be destructive. The present study showed that 77 (71.3%) of the respondents stated their work relation with laboratorian was good.
 
More than half of the respondents, i.e.that is, n= 59 (54.7%) believed that salary and incentive that the laboratorian earning was unsatisfactory. Unless professionals’ activity is complemented with proportional incentive and salary packages, individuals’ motivation and service provision energy might be compromised. As described by Yami A et al. (2001),, 67 (46.2%) of the health workers in the same study area are dissatisfied with their job. The major reasons reported for their dissatisfaction were lack of motivation, inadequate salary, insufficient training opportunities and an inadequate number of human resources [8]. Effective implementation and sustainability of quality laboratory programs relyies on the development of appropriate incentive and promotion strategies to increase laboratorian satisfaction at their current job [(Marinucci et al., 20139]) so that they could work and motivated to satisfy their customers.
 
The interchange of information between medical laboratory and the clinicians is a daily occurrence [(Henrg et al., 200110]). Among the respondents, n= 56 (51.9%), 18 (16.7%), 17 (15.7%) and 17 (15.7%) of them reported that the degree in which laboratory professional exchange valid datalaboratory result  with those utilize it in a timely fashion was good, fairly good, very good and poor, respectively. High rate of poor response was reported by physicians, n=8 (38.1%). This again might have contributed its share to developing negative attitude by some of the physicians.
 
Laboratory service in developing countries like Ethiopia faces different problems to advance public health. Almost in all health institutions in Ethiopia, medical laboratories were reported with a shortage of common supplies and reagents. Common and simple tests were not even done due to severe reagent shortages [(  Tegbaru et al., 2004,11, 12])
 
This study also showed that lack of public health leadership, shortage of equipment and supplies, poor maintenance system, lack of close follow up and supervision and a shortage of trained personnel were the main reasons mentioned by respondents as a factor for very weak laboratory service facility in health institutions of Ethiopia. It is also stated by other studies (Tegbaru et maintenance system, lack of close follow up and supervision and a shortage of trained personnel were the main reasons mentioned by respondents as a factor for very weak laboratory service facility in health institutions of Ethiopia. It is also stated by other studies [(Tegbaru et al., 2004;11, Kassu and Assefa, 199912])
 
The problem in the laboratories aggravated particularly at peripheral level due to different reasons like lack of properly designed  laboratory  rooms,  lack  of  water  and electricity access, shortage of equipment and supplies, shortage of skilled man power, weak integration of science and absence of maintenance and spare parts [(Tegbaru et al., 200411]). According to the respondents rate among the factors mentioned above, shortage of equipment and supplies account for the higher percentage (34.9%). This might be explained by the low socioeconomic standard of the country [(Tegbaru et al., 2004;11, Ali et al., 201213]).
 
Although, the topic is an area that has not been touched in detail so far, the numbers of study subjects were quite limited to draw strong conclusions. Similarly, the study did not take into account the familiarity and frequent service users of the laboratory lab discipline as it may be difficult to compare physicians with nurses considering their main role in the health team. With these limitations, the study finding will be an important entry for further studies to promote health professionals team spirit.
 
In conclusion, the majority of the respondents had a favor-able attitude towards medical laboratory technology. But, there were some professionals who demonstrated unwelcome perception to the field. Therefore, Ccontinuous effort should be   in place to promote team sprit among healthcare team members and to scale up the health service for patients. Similar   studies with   adequate   sample size   should   be considered.


 CONFLICT OF INTERESTS

The authors have not declared any conflict of interests. The author declares that there is no financial and non-financial competingconflict of interest.

 

 



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