Summary background: The Upper East Region has one of the highest cataract surgical rates in Ghana. Notwithstanding this, cataract blindness is still a major problem.
Aim: To determine patient-related barriers to cataract services in the region and their resolution.
Methods: Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and In-depth interviews were used to explore the opinions of 66 cataract patients resident in the region between July and August 2003. Purposeful sampling was used in selecting 24 patients in the hospital while a Snowball sampling method was employed on 42 respondents resident in the village communities
Results: Average age of the respondents was 67.6 years with equal proportions of males and females (0.9:1). Twelve and fifteen percent of respondents respectively cited fear and lack of escort as barriers to service up-take while 8% and 9% pointed to sociocultural beliefs and the fact that they were able to cope satisfactorily with their disability. Only 1.5% of respondents gave lack of awareness as a barrier with none citing geographical barrier as a problem. Cost of surgery, however, stood out clearly as a very significant barrier with 91% of respondents attesting to it.
Conclusion: It is concluded that further expansion of outreach services, coupled with a more intensive health education is needed to overcome these barriers.
Keywords: Barriers; Cataract surgery; Ghana.