Quality of primary health care in Saudi Arabia: A comprehensive review

Hanan Al-Ahmadi, Martin Roland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives. Little is known about the quality of primary care in Saudi Arabia, despite the central role of primary care centers in Saudi health strategy. This study presents an overview of quality of primary care in Saudi Arabia, and identifies factors impeding the achievement of quality, with the aim of determining how the quality of Saudi primary care could be improved. Method. Using a systematic search strategy, data were extracted from the published literature on quality of care in Saudi primary care services, and on barriers to achieving high-quality care. Results. Of the 128 studies initially identified, 31 met the inclusion criteria for the review. Studies identified were diverse in methodology and focus. Components of quality were reviewed in terms of access and effectiveness of both clinical and interpersonal care. Good access and effective care were reported for certain services including: immunization, maternal health care, and control of epidemic diseases. Poor access and effectiveness were reported for chronic disease management programs, prescribing patterns, health education, referral patterns, and some aspects of interpersonal care including those caused by language barriers. Several factors were identified as determining whether high-quality care was delivered. These included management and organizational factors, implementation of evidence-based practice, professional development, use of referrals to secondary care, and organizational culture. Conclusion. There is substantial variation in the quality of Saudi primary care services. In order to improve quality, there is a need to improve the management and organization of primary care services. Professional development strategies are also needed to improve the knowledge and skills of staff. © The Author 2005. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Society for Quality in Health Care; all rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)331-346
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


    • Access
    • Assessment
    • Effectiveness
    • Performance improvement
    • Primary health care
    • Quality
    • Quality improvement
    • Saudi Arabia


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