In the past 20 years, anesthesiology has become one of the most advanced specialties and has undergone rapid development. However, public awareness regarding anesthesiology and anesthesiologists is limited, especially in developing countries. It is important for anesthesiologists to make the public aware of their role during surgery. Therefore, a nationwide survey was set up to investigate public awareness of anesthesiology and anesthesiologists in China.
A cross-sectional nationwide survey was performed from June 2018 to June 2019 in 34 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions across China and an overseas region. The questionnaires of the survey were divided into 2 main parts: general items and research items. General items included the demographic characteristics of the participants; research items consisted of 10 questions about the public’s awareness of anesthesiologists and anesthesiology. Data quality control was undertaken by the investigation committee throughout the survey process.
The nationwide survey enrolled 1,001,279 participants (male, 40.7%). We found that most of the participants regarded anesthesiologists as doctors. However, public knowledge of anesthesiologists’ work and duties during surgery was quite low, with correct response rate ranging from 16.5% to 52.9%, and anesthesiologist responsibilities were often mistakenly attributed to surgeons or nurses. It is disappointing that more than half of participants still thought that, once the patient fell asleep after receiving anesthetics, the anesthesiologist could leave the operating room. Finally, the correct response rate was positively correlated with the economic levels of the regions.
Public awareness regarding anesthesiology and anesthesiologists in China remains inadequate. Due to the biases and characteristics of the participants, the actual situation of the general Chinese public is likely even worse than reflected here. Therefore, extensive measures should be undertaken to improve public knowledge of anesthesiology and anesthesiologists.