Kyriakos Souliotis, Christina Golna, Sofia Nikolaidi, Georgia Vatheia, Stanimir Hasurdjiev

Background: The prevalence and clinical burden of beta-thalassaemia in Greece is high. Little information is available on the unmet needs of patients with beta-thalassaemia and barriers to access to care.

Aims: This study investigated barriers that patients with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassaemia in Greece face when accessing care and the associations between socioeconomic factors and access to care.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between November 2018 and January 2019. The sample consisted of 116 beta-thalassaemia patient-members of two Panhellenic patient associations for people with thalassaemia. All respondents were transfusion-dependent. The survey customized and used the Patient Access Partnership 5As of access tool to measure participants’ access to health care services (subscales: accessibility, adequacy, affordability, appropriateness and availability). Data on their socioeconomic characteristics were also recorded. The association between the total score of each subscale and patient characteristics was examined using the Mann–Whitney or Kruskal–Wallis tests.

Results: Respondents considered inpatient services less adequate and appropriate, and outpatient services and laboratory tests less affordable. Outpatient services were also perceived as less available. Participants’ income was statistically significantly associated with all the subscales except accessibility, and rural residence was significantly associated with all five subscales.

Conclusions: Barriers in access to health care among beta-thalassaemia patients receiving transfusions still persist, especially for those who live far from transfusion centres and have lower incomes. It is important to understand and map current unmet medical and social needs of beta-thalassaemia patients in Greece, in order to design and implement a targeted health policy that can measurably improve patients’ lives.

East Mediterr Health Journal, 26(12), 1482–1492, 2020