Summary of Research Results: Theresa Tharakan

Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow volunteers frequently pursue public health research studies in Unite For Sight's Global Impact Lab program. The research topics are developed by Unite For Sight and the partner eye clinics, the research studies are approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the research findings are submitted to the eye clinic partners for program development.

Theresa Tharakan, "Barriers to Eye Care and Treatment in Rural Villages in Ghana"
Presented at Unite For Sight's 2013 Global Health & Innovation Conference

Design and Methodology: This study aimed to identify barriers to reception of eye care services in rural regions of Ghana. In-person interviews were conducted with 428 adults sampled from 3392 patients at 33 Unite For Sight outreach events. Data was collected for 899 individuals (428 subjects and 471 of their household members with an eye history, out of a total of over 4203 household members).

Original Data and Results: 32.4% (138/426) of patients said they had never seen an eye doctor before. 57.3% (243/424) of patients reported that none of their other household members had ever seen an eye doctor before. Patients who had never seen an eye doctor before were significantly more likely to report that no one else in their household had either (p=0.024). Likelihood to have seen an eye doctor before increased with age for patients and household members (r=0.19, p<0.001). Subjects reported that of household members with an eye history, 32.7% (149/456) attended that outreach event. Subjects reported that 283 household members with an eye history were prevented from attending by reasons including: no time due to work/school (33.6%, 95/283), no interest in eye care (23.0%, 65/283), lack of awareness of the outreach event (12.4%, 35/283), deterrence by transportation/medication costs (5.7%, 16/283) and other/unknown reasons (25.4%, 72/283).

Conclusion: These results enable Unite For Sight partner eye clinics in Ghana to better understand barriers to reception of eye care services in order to target populations not currently accessing them.