ABSTRACT • Background: Public awareness of anesthesiologists’ different roles in hospital departments remains problematic despite professionals’ efforts worldwide. Objective : To assess public’s understanding of anesthesia, in a large teaching hospital and among premed students in Lebanon. Design: Prospective survey. Setting : Preoperative anesthesia clinic in a large Lebanese University Hospital/A large Lebanese School of Medicine. Measurements: Patients and premedical students completed a standardized questionnaire which was later evaluated statistically. Population: 782 patients seen in the preanesthetic clinic and 144 premed students (1st to 3rd year) completed the questionnaire in a 7-week period between May and June 2017. Results: Overall 15.9% of patients and 36.1% of students were never exposed to anesthesia. The anesthetist wasn’t perceived to be a physician by 11.9% of the respondents. Patients and medical students tended to underestimate the number of years necessary to become a certified anesthesiologist, with only 15% of patients and 58% of premed students answering correctly. Response to this question among patients was statistically associated with a higher income, higher educational level and having a physician as a family member. While most of subjects (> 80%) asserted the anesthesiologists’ responsibility during surgery to administer drugs, they were relatively fewer (60%) to acknowledge anesthesiologists’ responsibility of monitoring vital signs perioperatively. Moreover, awareness of postoperative tasks is decreased and is differential between patients and students. Around 88% of subjects were interested in getting more information about anesthesia techniques and side effects; but fewer were interested in postoperative analgesia. More than half of the subjects preferred general to loco-regional anesthesia and what they feared most was not waking up after surgery. Conclusion: While the majority of subjects correctly identified the anesthesiologist as a medical doctor, his roles are drastically underestimated, even by future medical doctors. Anesthesiologists’ responsibilities need to be communicated to promote the importance of their work.
Keywords : anesthesia; survey; awareness