BACKGROUND: Different sets of literature suggest how aspects of practice time management can limit access to general practitioner (GP) care. Researchers have not organised this knowledge into a unified framework that can enhance understanding of barriers to, and opportunities for, improved access. AIM: To suggest a framework conceptualising how differences in professional and cultural understanding of practice time management in Auckland, New Zealand, influence access to GP care for children with chronic asthma. DESIGN OF STUDY: A qualitative study involving selective sampling, semi-structured interviews on barriers to access, and a general inductive approach. SETTING: Twenty-nine key informants and ten mothers of children with chronic, moderate to severe asthma and poor access to GP care in Auckland. METHOD: Development of a framework from themes describing barriers associated with, and needs for, practice time management. The themes were independently identified by two authors from transcribed interviews and confirmed through informant checking. Themes from key informant and patient interviews were triangulated with each other and with published literature. RESULTS: The framework distinguishes 'practice-centred time' from 'patient-centred time.' A predominance of 'practice-centred time' and an unmet opportunity for 'patient-centred time' are suggested by the persistence of five barriers to accessing GP care: limited hours of opening; traditional appointment systems; practice intolerance of missed appointments; long waiting times in the practice; and inadequate consultation lengths. None of the barriers is specific to asthmatic children. CONCLUSION: A unified framework was suggested for understanding how the organisation of practice work time can influence access to GP care by groups including asthmatic children.
Two key elements to improve the quality of care for people with long-term conditions in primary care are improved clinical information systems to support delivery of evidence-based care, and enhanced self-management support. Although both elements are viewed as necessary, their interaction is not well understood.
To explore the use of computer-based ‘disease management’ templates and their relevance to self-management dialogue within clinical encounters.
Design and setting
Qualitative study of general practices located in three primary care trusts in the north of England.
A qualitative mixed methods study was conducted that included comparative analysis of (1) observations of general practice consultations (n = 86); and (2) interviews with health professionals in general practice (n = 17).
The analysis suggested that use of the computer templates reinforced a checklist approach to consultations, which included professionals working through several self-management topics framed as discrete behaviours. As a consequence, conversation tended to become focused on the maintenance of the professional-patient relationship at the expense of expansion in self-management dialogue. The computer templates also shaped how patient-initiated self-management dialogue was managed when it arose, with a shift towards discussion around medical agendas.
In order to enhance the management of long-term conditions in primary care, the design and implementation of clinical information systems to improve evidence-based care need to take into account their potential impact on supporting self-management.
consultation; chronic disease; doctor-patient relations; primary care; self-management
To examine the work of commissioning care for people with long-term conditions and the factors inhibiting or facilitating commissioners making service change.
Multisite mixed methods case study research, combining qualitative analysis of interviews, documents and observation of meetings.
Primary care trust managers and clinicians, general practice-based commissioners, National Health Service trust and foundation trust senior managers and clinicians, voluntary sector and local government representatives.
Three ‘commissioning communities’ (areas covered by a primary care trust) in England, 2010–2012.
Commissioning services for people with long-term conditions was a long drawn-out process involving a range of activities and partners. Only some of the activities undertaken by commissioners, such as assessment of local health needs, coordination of healthcare planning and service specification, appeared in the official ‘commissioning cycle’ promoted by the Department of Health. Commissioners undertook a significant range of additional activities focused on reviewing and redesigning services and providing support for implementation of new services. These activities often involved partnership working with providers and other stakeholders and appeared to be largely divorced from contracting and financial negotiations. At least for long-term condition services, the time and effort involved in such work appeared to be disproportionate to the anticipated or likely service gains. Commissioners adopting an incremental approach to service change in defined and manageable areas of work appeared to be more successful in terms of delivering planned changes in service delivery than those attempting to bring about wide-scale change across complex systems.
Commissioning for long-term condition services challenges the conventional distinction between commissioners and providers with a significant amount of work focused on redesigning services in partnership with providers. Such work is labour-intensive and potentially unsustainable at a time of reduced finances. New clinical commissioning groups will need to determine how best to balance the relational and transactional elements of commissioning.
Health Services Administration & Management; Qualitative Research
To explore the relational challenges for general practitioner (GP) leaders setting up new network-centric commissioning organisations in the recent health policy reform in England, we use innovation network theory to identify key network leadership practices that facilitate healthcare innovation.
Mixed-method, multisite and case study research.
Six clinical commissioning groups and local clusters in the East of England area, covering in total 208 GPs and 1 662 000 population.
Semistructured interviews with 56 lead GPs, practice managers and staff from the local health authorities (primary care trusts, PCT) as well as various healthcare professionals; 21 observations of clinical commissioning group (CCG) board and executive meetings; electronic survey of 58 CCG board members (these included GPs, practice managers, PCT employees, nurses and patient representatives) and subsequent social network analysis.
Main outcome measures
Collaborative relationships between CCG board members and stakeholders from their healthcare network; clarifying the role of GPs as network leaders; strengths and areas for development of CCGs.
Drawing upon innovation network theory provides unique insights of the CCG leaders’ activities in establishing best practices and introducing new clinical pathways. In this context we identified three network leadership roles: managing knowledge flows, managing network coherence and managing network stability. Knowledge sharing and effective collaboration among GPs enable network stability and the alignment of CCG objectives with those of the wider health system (network coherence). Even though activities varied between commissioning groups, collaborative initiatives were common. However, there was significant variation among CCGs around the level of engagement with providers, patients and local authorities. Locality (sub) groups played an important role because they linked commissioning decisions with patient needs and brought the leaders closer to frontline stakeholders.
With the new commissioning arrangements, the leaders should seek to move away from dyadic and transactional relationships to a network structure, thereby emphasising on the emerging relational focus of their roles. Managing knowledge mobility, healthcare network coherence and network stability are the three clinical leadership processes that CCG leaders need to consider in coordinating their network and facilitating the development of good clinical commissioning decisions, best practices and innovative services. To successfully manage these processes, CCG leaders need to leverage the relational capabilities of their network as well as their clinical expertise to establish appropriate collaborations that may improve the healthcare services in England. Lack of local GP engagement adds uncertainty to the system and increases the risk of commissioning decisions being irrelevant and inefficient from patient and provider perspectives.
Health Services Administration & Management; Qualitative Research
BACKGROUND: It is commony claimed that changing the culture of health organisations is a fundamental prerequisite for improving the National Health Service (NHS). Little is currently known about the nature or importance of culture and cultural change in primary care groups and trusts (PCG/Ts) or their constituent general practices. AIMS: To investigate the importance of culture and cultural change for the implementation of clinical governance in general practice by PCG/Ts, to identify perceived desirable and undesirable cultural attributes of general practice, and to describe potential facilitators and barriers to changing culture. DESIGN: Qualitative: case studies using data derived from semi-structured interviews and review of documentary evidence. SETTING: Fifty senior non-clinical and clinical managers from 12 purposely sampled PCGs or trusts in England. RESULTS: Senior primary care managers regard culture and cultural change as fundamental aspects of clinical governance. The most important desirable cultural traits were the value placed on a commitment to public accountability by the practices, their willingness to work together and learn from each other, and the ability to be self-critical and learn from mistakes. The main barriers to cultural change were the high level of autonomy of practices and the perceived pressure to deliver rapid measurable changes in general practice. CONCLUSIONS: The culture of general practice is perceived to be an important component of health system reform and quality improvement. This study develops our understanding of a changing organisational culture in primary care; however, further work is required to determine whether culture is a useful practical lever for initiating or managing improvement.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the commonest acute infections presenting to primary care. Little is known of women's experiences of UTI; self-care strategies and key triggers for their consulting behaviour are also little known.
To explore women's experiences of self-care and their journey to GP care, when faced with symptoms of a UTI.
Design of study
Qualitative semi-structured interview study with women recruited to a larger UK trial of different management strategies for UTI.
General practices across four counties in southern England.
Twenty-one women were interviewed about the experiences they had prior to their GP visit, self-care strategies, and triggers for help seeking. Interviews were analysed thematically, using principles of analytic induction.
Women reported a process of evaluation, monitoring, re-evaluation, and, finally, consulting in order to meet their needs. Four key triggers for consulting were identified: failure to alleviate symptoms through self-care; symptom duration and escalation; impeding normal functioning and the fulfilment of social roles; and concern that it may be or become a serious illness.
Although UTI is often self-limiting, when taking patient histories and formulating their management strategies clinicians need to take into account women's often painful experience, their efforts to resolve symptoms prior to consulting, and their fears that the symptoms may indicate something more serious than a UTI.
antibiotics; consultation; urinary tract infection
The prevalence and impact of long term conditions continues to rise. Care planning for people with long term conditions has been a policy priority in England for chronic disease management. However, it is not clear how care planning is currently understood, translated and implemented in primary care. This study explores experience of care planning in patients with long term conditions in three areas in England.
We conducted semi-structured interviews with 23 predominantly elderly patients with multiple long term conditions. The interviews were designed to explore variations in and emergent experiences of care planning. Qualitative analysis of interview transcripts involved reflexively coding and re-coding data into categories and themes.
No participants reported experiencing explicit care planning discussions or receiving written documentation setting out a negotiated care plan and they were unfamiliar with the term ‘care planning’. However, most described some components of care planning which occurred over a number of contacts with health care professionals which we term”reactive” care planning. Here, key elements of care planning including goal setting and action planning were rare. Additionally, poor continuity and coordination of care, lack of time in consultations, and patient concerns about what was legitimate to discuss with the doctor were described.
Amongst this population, elements of care planning were present in their accounts, but a structured, comprehensive process and consequent written record (as outlined in English Department of Health policy) was not evident. Further research needs to explore the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to care planning for different patient groups.
Aged; Chronic disease; Chronic illness; Patient care planning; Primary health care
A practice intervention must have its basis in an understanding of the physician and practice to secure its benefit and relevancy. We used a formative process to characterize primary care physician attitudes, needs, and practice obstacles regarding primary prevention. The characterization will provide the conceptual framework for the development of a practice tool to facilitate routine delivery of primary preventive care.
A focus group of primary care physician Opinion Leaders was audio-taped, transcribed, and qualitatively analyzed to identify emergent themes that described physicians' perceptions of prevention in daily practice.
The conceptual worth of primary prevention, including behavioral counseling, was high, but its practice was significantly countered by the predominant clinical emphasis on and rewards for secondary care. In addition, lack of health behavior training, perceived low self-efficacy, and patient resistance to change were key deterrents to primary prevention delivery. Also, the preventive focus in primary care is not on cancer, but on predominant chronic nonmalignant conditions.
The success of the future practice tool will be largely dependent on its ability to "fit" primary prevention into the clinical culture of diagnoses and treatment sustained by physicians, patients, and payers. The tool's message output must be formatted to facilitate physician delivery of patient-tailored behavioral counseling in an accurate, confident, and efficacious manner. Also, the tool's health behavior messages should be behavior-specific, not disease-specific, to draw on shared risk behaviors of numerous diseases and increase the likelihood of perceived salience and utility of the tool in primary care.
Objectives—To examine the influence of evidence-based guidance on health care decisions, a study of the use of seven different sources and types of evidence-based guidance was carried out in senior health professionals in England with responsibilities either for directing and purchasing health care based in the health authorities, or providing clinical care to patients in trust hospitals or in primary care.
Setting—Three health settings: 46 health authorities, 162 acute and/or community trust hospitals, and 96 primary care groups in England.
Sample—566 subjects (46 directors of public health, 49 directors of purchasing, 375 clinical directors/consultants in hospitals, and 96 lead general practitioners).
Main outcome measures—Knowledge of selected evidence-based guidance, previous use ever, beliefs in quality, usefulness, and perceived influence on practice.
Results—A usable response rate of 73% (407/560) was achieved; 82% (334/407) of respondents had consulted at least one source of evidence-based guidance ever in the past. Professionals in the health authorities were much more likely to be aware of the evidence-based guidance and had consulted more sources (mean number of different guidelines consulted 4.3) than either the hospital consultants (mean 1.9) or GPs in primary care (mean 1.8). There was little variation in the belief that the evidence-based guidance was of "good quality", but respondents from the health authorities (87%) were significantly more likely than either hospital consultants (52%) or GPs (57%) to perceive that any of the specified evidence-based guidance had influenced a change of practice. Across all settings, the least used route to accessing evidence-based guidance was the Internet. For several sources an effect was observed between use ever, the health region where the health professional worked, and the region where the guidance was produced or published. This was evident for some national sources as well as in those initiatives produced locally with predominantly local distribution networks.
Conclusions—The evidence-based guidance specified was significantly more likely to be seen to have contributed to the decisions of public health specialists and commissioners than those of consultants in hospitals or of GPs in a primary care setting. Appropriate information support and dissemination systems that increase awareness, access, and use of evidence-based guidance at the clinical interface should be developed.
Key Words: evidence-based guidance; guidelines; evidence-based medicine
Objective To determine the effectiveness of an intervention to enhance self management support for patients with chronic conditions in UK primary care.
Design Pragmatic, two arm, cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting General practices, serving a population in northwest England with high levels of deprivation.
Participants 5599 patients with a diagnosis of diabetes (n=2546), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n=1634), and irritable bowel syndrome (n=1419) from 43 practices (19 intervention and 22 control practices).
Intervention Practice level training in a whole systems approach to self management support. Practices were trained to use a range of resources: a tool to assess the support needs of patients, guidebooks on self management, and a web based directory of local self management resources. Training facilitators were employed by the health management organisation.
Main outcome measures Primary outcomes were shared decision making, self efficacy, and generic health related quality of life measured at 12 months. Secondary outcomes were general health, social or role limitations, energy and vitality, psychological wellbeing, self care activity, and enablement.
Results We randomised 44 practices and recruited 5599 patients, representing 43% of the eligible population on the practice lists. 4533 patients (81.0%) completed the six month follow-up and 4076 (72.8%) the 12 month follow-up. No statistically significant differences were found between patients attending trained practices and those attending control practices on any of the primary or secondary outcomes. All effect size estimates were well below the prespecified threshold of clinically important difference.
Conclusions An intervention to enhance self management support in routine primary care did not add noticeable value to existing care for long term conditions. The active components required for effective self management support need to be better understood, both within primary care and in patients’ everyday lives.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN90940049.
Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) has a prevalence similar to asthma and chronic back pain, but little is known about how general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses manage women with this problem. A clearer understanding of current management is necessary to develop appropriate strategies, in keeping with current health care policy, for the supported self-management of patients with long term conditions. The aim of this study was to explore GPs' and practice nurses' understanding and perspectives on the management of chronic pelvic pain.
Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 21 GPs and 20 practice nurses, in three primary care trusts in the North West of England. Data were analysed using the principles of Framework analysis.
Analysis suggests that women who present with CPP pose a challenge to GPs and practice nurses. CPP is not necessarily recognized as a diagnostic label and making the diagnosis was achieved only by exclusion. This contrasts with the relative acceptability of labels such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). GPs expressed elements of therapeutic nihilism about the condition. Despite practice nurses taking on increasing responsibilities for the management of patients with long term conditions, respondents did not feel that CPP was an area that they were comfortable in managing.
The study demonstrates an educational/training need for both GPs and practice nurses. GPs described a number of skills and clinical competencies which could be harnessed to develop a more targeted management strategy. There is potential to develop facilitated self- management for use in this patient group, given that this approach has been successful in patients with similar conditions such as IBS.
Primary care is recognised to have an important role in the delivery of care for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). However, there is evidence that CKD management is currently suboptimal, with a range of practitioner concerns about its management.
To explore processes underpinning the implementation of CKD management in primary care.
Design and setting
Qualitative study in general practices participating in a chronic kidney disease collaborative undertaken as part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Greater Manchester.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with GPs and practice nurses (n = 21). Normalisation Process Theory provided a framework for generation and analysis of the data.
A predominant theme was anxiety about the disclosure of early-stage CKD with patients. The tensions experienced related to identifying and discussing CKD in older people and patients with stage 3A, embedding early-stage CKD within vascular care, and the distribution of work within the practice team. Participants provided accounts of work undertaken to resolve the difficulties encountered, with efforts having tended to focus on reassuring patients. Analysis also highlighted how anxiety surrounding disclosure influenced, and was shaped by, the organisation of care for people with CKD and associated long-term conditions.
Offering reassurance alone may be of limited benefit, and current management of early-stage CKD in primary care may miss opportunities to address susceptibility to kidney injury, improve self-management of vascular conditions, and improve the management of multimorbidity.
doctor–patient relations; kidney disease; chronic; normalisation process theory; primary care
In order to deliver effective care, it is necessary to organise interdisciplinary activities for older persons who suffer from depressive disorders. This paper evaluated the interdisciplinary team members' perceptions of cooperation in the discharge planning of depressed older persons based on the Chronic Care Model (CCM). A qualitative implementation design was used, data were collected by means of multistage focus groups, and a thematic analysis was performed. Three themes emerged: lack of effective team leadership in the community, the need to change the delivery system, and enhancing self-management support for depressed older persons as well as the participation of their families. It was concluded that nurse managers must find ways of supporting the depressed older persons by better structuring the care, increasing cooperation with organisational leadership, and creating an environment characterised by trust and mutual respect. Distrust can have serious implications for discharge planning collaboration. The development of a common vision of transparency in the organization is important as is a policy of change among leadership and in clinical practice.
To describe the perspectives and experiences of chronic hemodialysis (CHD) patients regarding self-care and adherence to fluid restrictions.
Semi-structured focus groups.
Two outpatient hemodialysis centers.
19 patients on chronic hemodialysis.
Patients were asked a series of open-ended questions to encourage discussion about the management of fluid restriction within the broad categories of general knowledge, knowledge sources or barriers, beliefs and attitudes, self-efficacy, emotion, and self-care skills.
Main outcome measure
We analyzed session transcripts using the theoretical framework of content analysis to identify themes generated by the patients.
Patients discussed both facilitators and barriers to fluid restriction which we categorized into 6 themes: knowledge, self-assessment, psychological factors, social, physical, and environmental. Psychological factors were the most common barriers to fluid restriction adherence, predominantly involving lack of motivation. Knowledge was the most discussed facilitator with accurate self-assessment, positive psychological factors, and supportive social contacts also playing a role. Dialysis providers were most commonly described as the source of dialysis information (54%), but learning through personal experience was also frequently noted (28%).
Interventions to improve fluid restriction adherence of chronic hemodialysis patients should target motivational issues, assess and improve patient knowledge, augment social support, and facilitate accurate self-assessment of fluid status.
hemodialysis; interdialytic weight gain; focus group; quality of life; qualitative research
Despite the success of the collaborative care approach on chronic disease outcomes; many patients fail to adopt the behaviors necessary to manage their disease. Goal-setting is an approach to collaborative chronic care that involves the setting of goals for the activation and maintenance of specific self-care behaviors. Using patients' perspectives this study will describe how goals for the self-management of hypertension are developed and whether they conform to the characteristics of effective goal setting.
Qualitative methodology was used to explore the process of setting self-management goals for hypertensive patients. Thirty patients participated in semi-structured interviews based on the deductive framework of goal setting.
Patients understand the risks associated with hypertension, have intentions to control their disease, report conducting at least one self-care task, and set informal goals for themselves; however these goals lack the characteristics needed to initiate and maintain behavior change.
goal setting is applicable to chronic hypertension care. Future studies need to examine ways to minimize barriers to effective goal setting to improve hypertension control.
as part of the process of chronic hypertension care, health care providers should include time and support for dedicated goal setting to improve the effectiveness of self-management behaviors.
Hypertension; Goal Setting; Self-Management
OBJECTIVES—To measure the processes of care, health benefits and costs of outreach clinics held by hospital specialists in primary care settings.
DESIGN—The study was designed as a case-referent (comparative) study in which the features of 19 outreach clinics (cases) were compared with matched outpatient clinics (controls). The measuring instruments were self administered questionnaires. Patients were followed up at six months to reassess health status. The specialties included in the study were cardiology, ENT, general medicine, general surgery, gynaecology and rheumatology.
SETTING—Specialist outreach clinics in general practice in England, with matched outpatient clinic controls.
SUBJECTS—Consecutive patient attenders in the outreach and outpatient clinics, their specialists, the outreach patients' general practitioners, practice managers and trust accountants. Patients' response rate at baseline: 78% (1420).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES—Patient satisfaction, doctors' attitudes, processes and health outcomes, costs.
RESULTS—Outreach patients were more satisfied with the processes of their care than outpatients, their access to specialist care was better than that for outpatients and they were more likely to be discharged. Doctors reported that the main advantages of the outreach clinic were improved patient access to specialists and convenience for patients, in comparison with outpatients, and most GPs and specialists felt the outreach clinic was "worthwhile". At six month follow up, the health status of the outreach sample had significantly improved more than that of the outpatients on all eight sub-scales of the HSQ-12, but this was probably because of their better starting point at baseline. The impact of outreach on health outcomes was small. The NHS costs of outreach were significantly higher than outpatients. An increase in outreach clinic size would reduce cost per patient, but would lead to the loss of most of the clinics' benefits.
CONCLUSIONS—While the process of care was of higher quality in outreach than in outpatients, and the efficiency of care was also greater in the latter, the effect on patients' health outcomes was small. Responsiveness to patients' views and preferences is an essential component of good quality service provision. However, the greater cost of outreach raises the issue of whether improvements in the quality and efficiency of health care, without a substantial impact on health outcomes, is money well spent in a publicly funded health service. On the other hand, the real costs of outreach in comparison with outpatients clinics can probably only be truly estimated in a longitudinal study with a resource based costing model derived from documented patient attendances and treatment costs over time in relation to longer term outcome (for example, at a two year end point).
Keywords: outreach clinics; general practice
To examine the barriers to, and facilitators in, improving diabetes management from the general practice perspective, in advance of the implementation of an integrated model of care in Ireland.
Qualitative using semistructured interviews.
Primary care in the Republic of Ireland.
Purposive sample of 29 general practitioners (GPs) and two practice nurses.
Data were analysed using a framework approach.
The main barriers and facilitators occurred at the level of the health system but had a ripple effect at an organisational, professional and patient level. The lack of targeted remuneration for diabetes management in the Irish health system created apathy in general practice and was perceived to be indicative of the lack of value placed on chronic disease management in the health system. There were ‘pockets of interest’ among GPs motivated by ‘vocational’ incentives such as a sense of professional duty; however, this was not sufficient to drive widespread improvement. The hospital service was seen as an essential support for primary care management, although some participants referred to emerging tension between settings. The lack of coordination at the primary–secondary interface resulted in avoidable duplication and an ‘in the meantime’ period of uncertainty around when patients would be called or recalled by specialist services. Facilitators included the availability of nursing support and serendipitous access to services. The lack of resources in the community was considered to be at odds with policy to shift routine management to general practice, which is fast reaching saturation.
At present, intrinsic motivation is driving the improvement of diabetes care in Ireland. This will not be sufficient to implement the proposed reform including a national model of integrated care. Policymakers need to assess and prepare for the disparate levels of interest and infrastructure in primary care in Ireland to support this change.
PRIMARY CARE; DIABETES & ENDOCRINOLOGY
BACKGROUND: Consultation skills are essential for general practice. Tools for measuring consultation skills in everyday practice are not well developed AIM: To examine and develop the content validity of the MAAS History-taking and Advice Checklist GP (MAAS-GP) tool which is used in The Netherlands for testing consultation skills, with simulated patients in United Kingdom general practice from the perspectives of both general practitioners and patients. DESIGN OF STUDY: Qualitative research using semi-structured interviews. SETTING: Alternate patients attending seven general practices in the north west of England. METHOD: Thematic analysis of the contents of patient and GP interviews, and of focus groups, mapping key themes to the MAAS-GP. RESULTS: There was strong agreement between patients and GPs on issues mapping to 46 out of 68 items of the MAAS-GP. Eight further MAAS-GP items were linked to issues only raised by patients and four to issues raised only by GPs. The remaining 10 items could not be related to issues raised by either. All of the issues raised by GPs could be mapped but 27 patient items could not. These were included in a revised checklist, the Liverpool MAAS (LIV-MAAS). CONCLUSION: the revised tool seems to have content validity in measuring consultation skills. Measurement of its relability is now required.
Great importance has been attached to a culture of safe practice in healthcare organisations, but it has proved difficult to engage frontline staff with this complex concept. The present study aimed to develop and test a framework for making the concept of safety culture meaningful and accessible to managers and frontline staff, and facilitating discussion of ways to improve team/organisational safety culture.
Eight primary care trusts and a sample of their associated general practices in north west England.
In phase 1 a comprehensive review of the literature and a postal survey of experts helped identify the key dimensions of safety culture in primary care. Semistructured interviews with 30 clinicians and managers explored the application of these dimensions to an established theory of organisational maturity. In phase 2 the face validity and utility of the framework was assessed in 33 interviews and 14 focus groups.
Nine dimensions were identified through which safety culture is expressed in primary care organisations. Organisational descriptions were developed for how these dimensions might be characterised at five levels of organisational maturity. The resulting framework conceptualises patient safety culture as multidimensional and dynamic, and seems to have a high level of face validity and utility within primary care. It aids clinicians' and managers' understanding of the concept of safety culture and promotes discussion within teams about their safety culture maturity.
The framework moves the agenda on from rhetoric about the importance of safety culture to a way of understanding why and how the shared values of staff working within a healthcare organisation may be operationalised to create a safe environment for patient care.
Depression is the most common mental health disorder in people aged over 65 years. Late-life depression is associated with chronic illness and disability.
To investigate the feasibility of a collaborative care model for depression in older people in a primary care setting.
Design of study
Randomised controlled trial with 16-weeks follow up.
A primary care trust in Manchester.
Participants were 105 people aged 60 years or older who scored 5 or more on the Geriatric Depression Scale; 53 were randomly allocated to an intervention group and 52 to a usual care group. The intervention group received care managed by a community psychiatric nurse who delivered an intervention comprising a facilitated self-help programme with close liaison with primary care professionals and old-age psychiatry according to a defined protocol. The usual care group received usual GP care. A nested qualitative study explored the views of the health professionals and patients regarding the acceptability and effectiveness of the intervention.
The main outcome measure was recovery from depression. Patients in the intervention group were less likely to suffer from major depressive disorder at follow up compared with usual care (0.32, 95% confidence = interval = 0.11 to 0.93, P = 0.036). The qualitative component of the study demonstrated the acceptability of the intervention to patients.
A model of collaborative care for older people with depression, used in a primary care setting with a facilitated self-help intervention is more effective than usual GP care. This study demonstrates that the implementation of a collaborative care model is feasible in UK primary care and that the intervention is effective and acceptable to patients.
depression; elderly; older people; primary care; randomised controlled trial
Mental health problems are common in primary care and most are managed solely by the GP. Patients strive to understand their mental health problems, and facilitating patients' understanding may be important in their care, yet little is known about this process in GP consultations.
To explore how patients' understanding of common mental health problems is developed in GP consultations.
Design of study
Ten general practices in North Central London.
Fourteen patients and their GPs were interviewed using the taped-assisted recall (TAR) method, and asked how understanding of the patients' mental health problems had been discussed in a recent consultation. The resulting 42 transcripts of the GP–patient consultations and separate GP and patient TAR interviews were analysed using qualitative thematic and process analytic methods.
Patients considered understanding their mental health problems to be important, and half reported their GP consultations as helpful in this respect. The process of coming to an understanding was predominantly patient-led. Patients suggested their own explanations, and these were facilitated and focused by the doctors' questioning, listening, validating, and elaborating aspects they considered important. Both doctors and patients experienced constraints on the extent to which developing understanding of problems was possible in GP consultations.
GPs can help patients understand their mental health problems by recognising patients' own attempts at explanation and helping to shape and develop these.
doctor–patient relations; mental health; primary care; qualitative research
Objectives—To investigate reactions to the use of evidence-based cardiovascular and stroke performance indicators within one primary care group.
Design—Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews.
Setting—Fifteen practices from a primary care group in southern England.
Participants—Fifty two primary health care professionals including 29 general practitioners, 11 practice managers, and 12 practice nurses.
Main outcome measures—Participants' perceptions towards and actions made in response to these indicators. The barriers and facilitators in using these indicators to change practice.
Results—Barriers to the use of the indicators were their data quality and their technical specifications, including definitions of diseases such as heart failure and the threshold for interventions such as blood pressure control. Nevertheless, the indicators were sufficiently credible to prompt most of those in primary care teams to reflect on some aspect of their performance. The most common response was to improve data quality through increased or improved accuracy of recording. There was a lack of a coordinated team approach to decision making. Primary care teams placed little importance on the potential for performance indicators to identify and address inequalities in services between practices. The most common barrier to change was a lack of time and resources to act upon indicators.
Conclusion—For the effective implementation of national performance indicators there are many barriers to overcome at individual, practice, and primary care group levels. Additional training and resources are required for improvements in data quality and collection, further education of all members of primary care teams, and measures to foster organisational development within practices. Unless these barriers are addressed, performance indicators could initially increase apparent variation between practices.
Key Words: performance indicators; primary care; primary care groups; training
BACKGROUND: The focus of care for people with diabetes has shifted from hospital to general practice. Many practices now offer diabetes care via dedicated mini-clinics, shared care schemes or opportunistically. There has never been a national survey of the organisation of diabetes care in general practice. AIM: To describe some key features of diabetes care in primary care in England and Wales. METHOD: Descriptive postal questionnaire survey to one in five (1873) randomly sampled general practices. RESULTS: Seventy per cent (1320) of practices responded. Of these, 96% had diabetes registers identifying 1.9% of their population as having diabetes; 71% held clinics run by a general practitioner (GP) and a nurse (64%) or a nurse alone (34%); 80% felt adequately supported; and 54% shared patient management protocols with the local secondary care team. Overall, practices provided most of the routine diabetes care for 75% of their diabetic patients. The majority of GPs and practice nurses had received some recent, albeit brief, diabetes education. CONCLUSION: A large proportion of diabetes care now takes place in the community, much of it delivered by practice nurses. The organisational infrastructure necessary for delivering good care is in place. Many practices have a special interest in diabetes with the majority feeling adequately supported by secondary care. However, there are concerns about the educational needs of those providing care. More work needs to be done to ensure seamless care across the primary-secondary care interface.
Self-care is a key component of current policies to manage long term conditions. Although most people with long-term health problems care for themselves within lay networks, consultation rates for long-term undifferentiated illness remain high. Promotion of self-care in these individuals requires an understanding of their own self-care practices and needs to be understood in the context of health care pluralism. The aim was to investigate the extent and nature of self-care practices in patients experiencing long term health problems, sources of information used for self-care, and use of other forms of health care (conventional health care and complementary and alternative medicine).
The study involved a cross-sectional community-based survey set in three general practices in South West England: two in urban areas, one in a rural area. Data were collected using a postal questionnaire sent to a random sample of 3,060 registered adult patients. Respondents were asked to indicate which of six long term health problems they were experiencing, and to complete the questionnaire in reference to a single (most bothersome) problem only.
Of the 1,347 (45% unadjusted response rate) who responded, 583 reported having one or more of the six long term health problems and 572 completed the survey questionnaire. Use of self-care was notably more prevalent than other forms of health care. Nearly all respondents reported using self-care (mean of four self-care practices each). Predictors of high self-care reported in regression analysis included the reported number of health problems, bothersomeness of the health problem and having received a diagnosis. Although GPs were the most frequently used and trusted source of information, their advice was not associated with greater use of self-care.
This study reveals both the high level and wide range of self-care practices undertaken by this population. It also highlights the importance of GPs as a source of trusted information and advice. Our findings suggest that in order to increase self-care without increasing consultation rates, GPs and other health care providers may need more resources to help them to endorse appropriate self-care practices and signpost patients to trusted sources of self-care support.
Patient privacy may conflict with the advancement of knowledge through data sharing. The data contained in primary care records are uniquely comprehensive.
To explore the knowledge and attitudes of patients and members of the primary healthcare team regarding the sharing of data held in primary care records, with particular reference to data sharing for research and the impact that this may have on trust between patients and health professionals.
Design of study
Qualitative study using quota sampled, semi-structured interviews.
Five general practices in Leicestershire, UK.
Grounded theory and framework methodology were used. Interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically.
Twenty patients and 15 healthcare professionals and managers were interviewed. Patients had limited knowledge of the type of information held in their general practice records and the ways in which these data are shared, but appeared ready to form preliminary views on issues such as data sharing for audit and disease registration. In this climate of limited awareness, there was no suggestion that concern about data sharing for research adversely affects patient trust or leads patients to withhold relevant information from health professionals in primary care. Interviews carried out with staff suggested a lack of clear practice policies regarding data sharing.
General practices may need to develop policies on data sharing, bring these to the attention of their patient population and improve patient awareness about the nature of the data contained in their records. Researchers should ensure that patients are adequately informed about the nature of data contained in patient records when seeking consent for data extraction.
confidentiality; ethics; general practice; medical records; research