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To develop a proactive person-centered care approach for persons with (multiple) chronic diseases in general practice, and to explore the impact on ‘Quadruple aims’: experiences of patients and professionals, patient outcomes and costs of resources use.
The management of people with multiple chronic diseases challenges health care systems designed around single disease. Patients with multimorbidity often receive highly fragmented care that may lead to inefficient, ineffective and potentially harmful treatments and neglect of essential health needs. A more comprehensive, person-centered approach is advocated for persons with multiple morbidities. However, examples on how to provide more person-centered care and evidence of its impact are scarce. A group of Dutch general practitioners (GPs) took the initiative to develop such a care approach.
Mixed methods with a development and pilot-testing phase. The proactive person-centered approach will be developed using an action-based research design consisting of multiple plan-act-observe-reflect-adjust cycles. In each cycle, experiences of patients and primary care professionals from 13 practices will be collected via interviews, observations and focus groups. Starting point for the first cycle is a ‘person-centered consultation’ of up to 1 h in which the GP discusses the health status and health care needs of the patient. Furthermore, shared decisions between GP and patient are made on treatment goals and follow-up. In the pilot-test phase, a nested case cohort study allows to explore the impact of the new approach on ‘Quadruple aim’ outcomes comparing persons with and without exposure to the new care approach.
This study will provide a proactive person-centered approach for persons with multimorbidity in primary care and estimate its potential impact on quadruple outcomes.
To increase the proportion of patients with no psychotropic drug discrepancies at the community mental health team (CMHT)–general practice interface. Three CMHTs participated. Over a 14 month period, quality improvement methodologies were used: individual patient-level feedback to patient's prescribers, run charts and meetings with CMHTs.
One CMHT improved medicines reconciliation accuracy and demonstrated significant reductions in prescribing discrepancies. One in three (119/356) patients had ≥1 discrepancy involving 20% (166/847) of all prescribed psychotropics. Discrepancies were graded as: ‘fatal’ (0%), ‘serious’ (17%) and ‘negligible/minor harm’ (83%) but were associated with extra avoidable prescribing costs. For medicines routinely supplied by secondary care, 68% were not recorded in general practice electronic prescribing systems.
Improvements in medicines reconciliation accuracy were achieved for one CMHT. This may have been partly owing to a multidisciplinary team approach to sharing and addressing prescribing discrepancies. Improving prescribing accuracy may help to reduce avoidable drug-related harms to patients.
Electrocardiograms (ECGs) are frequently recorded in primary care for screening purposes. An ECG is essential in diagnosing atrial fibrillation, and ECG abnormalities are associated with cardiovascular events. While recent studies show that ECGs adequately reclassify a proportion of patients based on the clinical risk score calculations, there are no data to support that this also results in improved health outcomes. When applied for screening for atrial fibrillation, more cases are found with routine care, but this would be undone when physicians would perform systematic pulse palpation. In most studies, the harms of routine ECG use (such as unnecessary diagnostic testing, emotional distress, increased health expenses) were poorly documented. As such, the routine performing of ECGs in asymptomatic primary care patients, whether it is for cardiovascular disease risk assessment or atrial fibrillation, cannot be recommended.
To investigate cases of suicide in which there was no healthcare contact, by looking at history of help-seeking and evidence of previous mental health vulnerability. To identify any life events associated with suicide for which individuals did not seek help.
Previous research has suggested that non-consultation is the main barrier to suicide prevention among men. Estimates suggest approximately 22% of men who die by suicide have not consulted their GP in the year before their death. Little is known about the lifetime pattern of engagement with services among these individuals and whether or not this may influence their help-seeking behaviour before death.
Coroner records of suicide deaths in Northern Ireland over 2 years were linked to general practice (GP) records. This identified 63 individuals who had not attended health services in the 12 months before death. Coroner’s data were used to categorise life events associated with the male deaths. Lifetime mental health help-seeking at the GP was assessed.
The vast majority of individuals who did not seek help were males (n=60, 15% of all suicide deaths). Lack of consultation in the year before suicide was consistent with behaviour over the lifespan; over two-thirds had no previous consultations for mental health. In Coroner’s records, suicides with no prior consultation were primarily linked to relationship breakdown and job loss. These findings highlight the limitations of primary care in suicide prevention as most had never attended GP for mental health issues and there was a high rate of supported consultation among those who had previously sought help. Public health campaigns that promote service use among vulnerable groups at times of crisis might usefully be targeted at those likely to be experiencing financial and relationship issues.
General practices play an important role in the detection and treatment of depressive symptoms in older adults. An adapted version of the indicated preventive life review therapy group intervention called Looking for Meaning (LFM) was developed for general practice and a pilot evaluation was conducted.
A pretest-posttest design was used. One week before and one week after the intervention participants filled out questionnaires.
In six general practices in the Netherlands the adapted intervention was given.
Inclusion criteria were > 60 years and a score of 5 or higher on the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).
The length and number of LFM sessions were shortened and the intervention was given by one mental health care nurse practitioner (MHCNP).
The impact on mental health was analyzed by depressive symptoms (CES-D) as the primary outcome and anxiety symptoms (HADS-A), psychological well-being (PGCMS) and mastery (PMS) as secondary outcomes. An evaluative questionnaire was included to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability.
Most participants were satisfied with the adaptations of the number (72%) and length (72%) of sessions. The overall sample showed a significant decrease in depressive symptoms after the intervention. No impact was found on psychological well-being, anxiety symptoms and mastery.
The intervention is feasible and acceptable for older adults with depressive symptoms and has an impact on their depressive symptoms.
Roles for pharmacists in general practice are developing in Australia. It is known that pharmacists can provide effective smoking cessation services in other settings but evidence in general practice is lacking.
To determine whether a pharmacist can provide effective smoking cessation services within general practice.
Data from smoking cessation consultations were obtained for 66 consecutive patients seen by one practice pharmacist. The pharmacist tailored interventions to the individual. Medication was offered in collaboration with community pharmacists and general practitioners. Quit coaching, based on motivational interviewing, was conducted. Smoking status was ascertained at least 6 months after the intended quit date and verified by a carbon monoxide breath test where possible.
The patients’ median age was 43 years (range 19–74 years); 42 were females (64%). At baseline, the median (i) number of pack years smoked was 20 (range: 1–75); (ii) Fagerstrom Test of dependence score was 6 (1–10); and (iii) number of previous quit attempts was 3 (0–10). Follow-up after at least 6 months determined a self-reported point prevalence abstinence rate of 30% (20/66). Of all patients who reported to be abstinent, 65% (13/20) were tested for carbon monoxide breath levels and were all below 7 ppm. The biochemically verified smoking abstinence rate was therefore 20% overall (13/66). Successful quit attempts were associated with varenicline recommendation (69% v 25%), increased median number of practice pharmacist consultations (4 v 2 per patient) and mental health diagnosis (85% v 51%).
Our observed abstinence rate was comparable or better than those obtained by practice nurses, community pharmacists and outpatient pharmacists, indicating the general practice pharmacist provided an effective smoking cessation intervention. A larger randomised trial is warranted.
We investigated the association between general practitioner (GP) stress factors, including involvement in malpractice litigation or high workload levels during 2007 and ensuing retirement in a sample of Danish GPs. The case file and register information of 739 GPs were examined. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for all causes of retirement from 2007 to 2016. During the study period, 34% of GPs had ceased to practice (n = 260). The HR for retirement was higher with increasing age (HR = 1.19 per year) and lower if practicing in a clinic with a greater number of GPs (HR = 0.47) but no statistically significant association was found between retirement and litigation or higher workload. Knowledge on factors influencing GPs’ decision on whether to continue working is important to ensure sustainable primary care provision.
As prevalence of mental health disorders increases worldwide, recognition and treatment of these disorders falls increasingly into the remit of primary care. This study investigated the prevalence and management of adults presenting to their general practitioner (GP) in Ireland with a psychological condition.
A random number function was used to select 100 patients with a consultation in the previous 2 years from 40 general practices around Ireland. The clinical records of these patients were examined using a standardised reporting tool to extract information on demographics, eligibility for free care, prevalence and treatment of psychological conditions.
From a sample of 3845 ‘active’ patients, 620 (16%, 95% confidence interval 15–17%) had a documented psychological condition in the previous 2 years. The most common diagnoses were depression (54%) followed by stress and anxiety (47%). The following patient characteristics were associated with having a documented mental health condition: female gender; higher GP consultation rate; a referral or attendance at secondary care and eligibility for free GP care. Of those with a psychological condition, 34% received a psychological intervention and 81% received a pharmacological intervention.
The overall prevalence estimate of mental health disorders for this sample was lower than previously documented in primary care. Patients diagnosed with mental health disorders had higher utilisation of health services and pharmacological treatment was common.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in general practice, and antibiotic resistance is often seen. Urine cultures are advised by the Dutch national UTI guideline for patients at high risk of UTI complications. Prudent use of antibiotics and taking into account national guidelines and urine culture results are important to combat antibiotic resistance in general practice.
To identify subgroups of UTI patients in which the use of urine cultures and antibiotic prescriptions deviates from the national guidelines.
We investigated associations of several characteristics with urine culture orders in patients with UTI in 2015 from seven Dutch general practices (n=1295). These included subgroups at risk for UTI complications, comorbidities, age and history of UTI recurrence. In addition, we assessed the level of adherence to the guideline for antibiotic prescriptions in subgroups at risks for UTI complications.
Urine cultures were ordered in 17% (n=221) of patients, more frequently in high-risk patients (32%) than in low-risk patients (7%), for UTI complications (OR=6.4; 95% CI 4.6–9.0). In low-risk patients, 91% received antibiotics that were recommended in the guideline. For high-risk patients this percentage ranged widely, and was particularly low in the risk groups with signs of tissue invasion (29–50%). Diagnostic and therapeutic adequacy can still be improved by increasing the adherence to the guideline in UTI patients at high risk for complications. This may contribute to containing antibiotic resistance in UTI by ordering urine cultures and use the results to adjust prescriptions to antibiotic susceptibility of the uropathogen.
Little is known around how general practitioners (GP) approach tobacco products beyond traditional cigarettes.
To examine GP perceptions of tobacco and electronic cigarette (EC) products, and their attitudes and behaviours towards product cessation.
A 13-item self-completed anonymous questionnaire measured awareness of waterpipe tobacco smoking (WTS) and smokeless tobacco (ST). Cessation advice provision, referral to cessation services, and the harm perception of these products were asked using five-point Likert scales that were dichotomised on analysis. Correlates of cessation advice were analysed using regression models.
We analysed 312 responses, of whom 63% were aware of WTS and between 5–32% were aware of ST products. WTS and ST were considered less harmful than cigarettes by 82 and 68% of GPs, respectively. WTS, ST, and EC users were less advised (P<0.001) and referred (P<0.001) to cessation services compared to cigarette users. Ethnic minority and senior GPs were more likely to provide cessation advice for WTS and ST users compared to younger white GPs. GPs who were recent tobacco users were less likely to give cessation advice to cigarette users (adjusted odds ratios 0.17, 95% confidence interval 0.03–0.99, P<0.049).
Conclusions (implications for practice and research)
GPs had lower harm perception, gave less cessation advice, and made less referrals for WTS and ST users compared to cigarettes. Our findings highlight the need for targeted tobacco education in general practice. More research is needed to explore GP perceptions in depth as well as patient perspectives.
To explore, for the first time, whether a modified mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) course has the potential to reduce stress and burnout among National Health Service (NHS) General Practitioners.
There is a crisis of low morale among NHS GPs, with most describing their workload as ‘unmanageable’. MBCT has been demonstrated to improve stress and burnout in other populations, but has not yet been evaluated in a cohort of NHS GPs.
NHS GPs in South East England (n=22) attended a modified version of the MBCT course approved by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for prevention of depressive relapse. This comprised eight weekly 2-h sessions with homework (mindfulness practice) between sessions. Participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) before (baseline) and then again one month (T2) and three months (T3) after attending the course. We also obtained qualitative data on participants’ experiences of the course.
Compliance with the intervention was very high. All GPs attended at least six sessions and all completed baseline questionnaires. At T2, data were obtained from 21 participants (95%); PSS scores were significantly lower than at baseline (P<0.001), as were MBI emotional exhaustion (P<0.001) and depersonalization scores (P=0.0421). At T3 we obtained data for 13 participants (59%); PSS scores and MBI emotional exhaustion scores were significantly lower (P<0.001; P=0.0024, respectively) and personal accomplishment scores were significantly higher (P<0.001) than at baseline. Participants reported that the course helped them to manage work pressures, feel more relaxed, enjoy their work and experience greater empathy and compassion (for self, colleagues and patients). Findings of this preliminary evaluation are promising. Further research is needed to evaluate this approach within a larger randomized-controlled trial.
This study examines GP perceptions, attitudes and knowledge of complementary medicine (CM), and to understand contextual factors that influence these perceptions, attitudes and knowledge.
CM use is increasing, and its influence on primary care becoming increasingly significant. Although general practitioners (GPs) often have central primary care gate-keeper roles within health systems, few studies have looked specifically at GPs’ perceptions, attitudes and knowledge of CM.
A questionnaire was mailed to all 1486 GPs registered as practicing in non-metropolitan areas of New South Wales. The survey included one free-text qualitative question, where respondents were invited to highlight issues associated with CM in their own words. Free-text responses were analyzed qualitatively using thematic analysis.
In total, 585 GPs responded to the survey (adjusted response rate 40.1%), with 152 (26.0%) filling in the free-text question. Central themes which emerged were risk as a primary concern; opposition to, resistance to and the inappropriateness of complementary therapies; struggles with complexity and ambivalent tolerance.
GPs in Australia have a wide variety of perceptions toward CM. A minority of GPs have absolute views on CM, with most GPs having numerous caveats and qualifications of individual CM. Efficacy is only one aspect of CM critically evaluated by GPs when gauging support for individual therapies – risk, alignment with medical principles and an openness to exploring new avenues of treatment where others have failed, all appear to be equally important considerations when GPs form their views around CM.
The aim of this study was to explore elderly patients’ and general practitioners’ (GPs’) perceptions of communication about polypharmacy, medication safety and approaches for empowerment.
To manage polypharmacy, GPs need to know patients’ real medication consumption. However, previous research has shown that patients do not always volunteer all information about their medication regimen, for example, such as the intake of over-the-counter medication or the alteration or discontinuation of prescribed medication.
A qualitative interview study including patients of at least 65 years old with polypharmacy (⩾5 medications) and their GPs in a German Primary Healthcare Centre. The transcripts from the semi-structured interviews (n=6 with patients; n=3 with GPs) were analysed using a framework analytical approach.
We identified three themes: differing medication plans: causes?; dialogue concerning medication: whose responsibility?; supporting patients’ engagement: how? While GPs stated that patients do not always report or might even conceal information, all patients reported that they could speak openly about everything with their GPs. In this context, trust might act as a double-edged sword, as it can promote open communication but also prevent patients from asking questions. Both GPs and patients could name very few ways in which patients could be supported to become more informed and active in communication concerning polypharmacy and medication safety.
This study shows that patients’ awareness of the significance of their active role in addressing polypharmacy needs to be increased. This includes understanding that trusting the doctor does not preclude asking questions or seeking more information. Thus, interventions which improve patients’ communication skills and address specific issues of polypharmacy, particularly in elderly patients, should be designed. GPs might support patients by ‘inviting’ their contribution.
This paper reports the findings of a scoping review on the organisation and delivery of health improvement activities in general practice and the primary healthcare team. The project was designed to examine who delivers these interventions, where they are located, what approaches are developed in practices and how individual practices and the primary healthcare team organise such public health activities and how these contribute to health improvement. Our focus was on health promotion and prevention activities and aimed to identify the current extent of knowledge about the health improvement activities in general practice and the wider primary healthcare team. Many of the research studies reviewed had some details about the type, process, location or who provided the intervention. Little attention is paid in the literature to examining the impact of the organisational context on the way services are delivered or how this affects the effectiveness of health improvement interventions in general practice. We found that the focus of attention is mainly on individual prevention approaches with practices engaging in both primary and secondary prevention. Although many GPs do not take a population approach and focus on individual patients some do see health promotion as an integral part of practice – whether as individual approaches to primary or secondary health improvement or as a practice-based approach to improving the health of their patients. Based on our analysis we conclude that there is insufficient good evidence to support many of the health improvement interventions undertaken in general practice and primary care.
In the wake of the Second World War there was a movement to counterbalance the apparently increasingly technical nature of medical education. These reforms sought a more holistic model of care and to put people – rather than diseases – back at the centre of medical practice and medical education. This article shows that students often drove the early stages of education reform. Their innovations focused on relationships between doctors and their communities, and often took the form of informal discussions about medical ethics and the social dimensions of primary care. Medical schools began to pursue ‘humanistic’ education more formally from the 1980s onwards, particularly within the context of general practice curricula and with a focus on individual doctor–patient relationships. Overall from the 1950s to the 1990s there was a broad shift in discussions of the human aspects of medical education: from interest in patient communities to individuals; from social concerns to personal characteristics; and from the relatively abstract to the measurable and instrumental. There was no clear shift from ‘less’ to ‘more’ humanistic education, but rather a shift in the perceived goals of integrating human aspects of medical education. The human aspects of medicine show the importance of student activism in driving forward community and ethical medicine, and provide an important backdrop to the rise of competencies within general undergraduate education.
To assess how much ENT experience regional general practitioner trainees received, both in their undergraduate and post-graduate training, and to establish if trainees felt they required further ENT training to manage ENT complaints.
An online survey was emailed to general practitioner trainees in Cornwall and Devon.
Of 200 general practitioner trainees, 121 (60.5 per cent) responded to the survey. Of these respondents, 95.9 per cent felt ENT experience was important as a general practitioner; however, 59.5 per cent had no ENT experience in their post-graduate training. Sixty-five per cent of trainees had not had any formal ENT teaching since leaving medical school; however, 93.4 per cent would attend a 1-day course if offered the opportunity locally. Finally, 75.8 per cent of trainees would have liked an ENT post during their post-graduate training.
Further ENT training is required for doctors in general practitioner training schemes to aid improvement of patient care. The most logical way to enhance ENT training in a post-graduate setting is through up-to-date courses held locally with a faculty made up of experts working within the specialty.
Substance use disorder treatment is a complex problem. Complex problems require complex interventions, ideally tested via randomised controlled trials.
Complex interventions are best developed in stages, using established implementation frameworks.
Results and Conclusions
Starting with a historical patient case study, we explore how treatment of this challenging population group has been approached, how an evidence-based framework has informed formulation of a complex health intervention and how this has been progressed via the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) approach.
To explore the experiences of people with HIV (PWHIV) using general practitioner (GP) services in order to identify barriers to use.
Traditionally, GPs have little involvement in the care of PWHIV. However, as HIV becomes a chronic condition and the population of PWHIV ages, there is a need to increase this involvement. Despite high levels of GP registration, the majority of PWHIV in London report that their GP is not involved in their HIV care.
This paper presents qualitative findings from a mixed method study of PWHIV’s experiences of clinical services. Survey respondents were purposively sampled to recruit 51 PWHIV who took part in eight focus groups. Participants were asked about their experience of using GP services.
Three factors emerged which mediated experiences of GP care. Competence: respondents were concerned about the potential for misdiagnosis of symptoms, lack of awareness of the health needs of PWHIV and experiences of prescribing, which could lead to drug interactions. Continuity: not being able to get appointments quickly enough, not being able to see the same doctor twice and not being able to keep the same GP when one changed address were experienced as impediments to use. Communication: lack of communication between GPs and HIV specialists led to what participants called ‘patient ping-pong’ where they found themselves acting as a go-between for different clinical specialists trying to make sense of their care.
Meaningful contact between HIV specialists and GPs is likely to allay concerns about competency as treatment and care decisions can be taken collaboratively between the GP, HIV specialist and patient. A key component of acceptable GP care for PWHIV is likely to be the application of long-term condition management approaches, which includes empowered patient self-management.
To evaluate NHS Health Check implementation in terms of frequency of data recording, advice provided, referrals to community-based lifestyle support services, statin prescribing and new diagnoses, and to assess variation in these aspects between practices and health professionals involved in delivery.
Most NHS Health Checks are delivered by general practices, but little detail is known about the extent of variation in how they are delivered in different practices and by different health professionals.
This was an observational study conducted in a purposively selected sample of 13 practices in Sefton, North West England. Practices used previously recorded information from their clinical management systems to identify patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk ⩾20%, a potentially cost-effective approach. The evaluation was conducted during the first year of delivery in Sefton. Data were extracted from medical records of all patients identified, regardless of Health Check attendance.
Of the 2892 patients identified by the 13 practices, 1070 had received an NHS Health Check at the time of the study. Of these, only 936 (87.5%) had a recorded CVD risk score, with risk ⩾20% confirmed in 92.0%. Estimated risk category was correct in 456/677 (67.4%) of patients with estimated and actual risk scores.
Significant variation was found between practices and health professionals in parameters recorded, tests requested, advice given and referrals for lifestyle support. Only 45.3% of patients had body mass index, smoking, alcohol, exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol all recorded.
Lifestyle advice and referral into lifestyle services were documented in 80.6% and 6.4% of attenders, respectively, again with significant variation between practices and professionals. Statin prescribing rose in attenders from 19.6% to 34.6%. A similar proportion of attenders and non-attenders received new diagnoses.
Effort is required to reduce variation in how practices deliver and follow-up NHS Health Checks, to ensure the consistency of the programme.
The aim of this study was to explore the factors affecting role development in practice nursing in the United Kingdom.
General practice is currently central to National Health Service reform, producing favourable conditions for the practice nurse role to be further strengthened and developed. However, the literature has continued to describe evidence that practice nurses are a disempowered, isolated group with many constraints reducing their ability to respond to opportunities to develop their role. The rationale for conducting the study was therefore to provide a greater understanding about the constraining factors and their influence on practice nurses wishing to develop their role.
The method used to conduct the research followed a case approach, as the subject being investigated was complex with multiple inter-related factors and the approach was exploratory. The cases comprised six UK general practices and the participants within each case were a practice nurse, a GP and a practice manager.
A combination of factors was found to contribute to the way the practice nurse role evolves. These are education, practice culture, practice nurse personal characteristics and empowerment. Empowerment holds the key to maximising the conditions favourable to practice nurse role evolution. This is not, however, a ‘single’ factor; it represents the combined synergistic effects of practice culture and practice nurse personal characteristics on creating an empowering environment. The inter-relationship between these was captured in a framework and given the title ‘empowering employment principles’.
The ‘empowering employment principles’ illustrate the features most conducive to role evolution, thus providing a tool for practice nurses and their employers to enhance opportunities for nurses to develop their role.