Background: The lack of awareness of the family physicians (FP) role has affected the ideal system of healthcare delivery. One of the common reasons for patients to visit primary healthcare (PHC) centers is to seek a referral, which causes another problem that is the unnecessary increased load on main hospitals. Hence, leading to a reduced quality of total healthcare delivery. The study aimed to evaluate awareness and perception among society regarding the FP role and to assess what gaps need to be fulfilled in order to promote our PHC system and to reach the 2030 healthcare vision.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 427 participants, aged between 18 and 70 years, from Qassim, Saudi Arabia. Data were collected via a random digital online survey and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences program.
Results: More than half of the participants (63% n = 269) stated that they had an idea about the FP. However, 47.5% (n = 203) of the participants viewed FPs as the same as general physicians/practitioners. The majority (n = 352, 82.4%) did not have a regular FP. Most participants did not believe that FPs could deal with emergencies (38.9% n = 166). The analysis revealed a strong significant association between having a regular FP and older age (p < 0.000).
Conclusion: Even though there was only a small percentage of participants having a regular FP, there was a significant correlation between having a regular FP and older age. Overall, participants showed a good knowledge regarding the principles of the FPs role.
Key words: Family physicians role, family medicine, public perception, awareness, Qassim, Saudi Arabia