BackgroundPrimary health care teams are key to the delivery of care for patients with advanced cancer during the last year of life. The Gold Standards Framework is proposed as a mechanism for coordinating and guiding identification, assessment, and support. There are still considerable variations in practice despite its introduction. The aim of this qualitative study is to improve understanding of variations in practice through exploring the perspectives and experiences of members of primary health care teams involved in the care of patients with advanced cancer.
MethodsQualitative, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and non-participatory observations involving 67 members of primary health care teams providing palliative care. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach.
ResultsWe identified distinct differences in the drivers and barriers of community advanced cancer care coordination, which relate to identification and management, and access to effective pain management, and go some way to understanding variations in practice. These include proactive identification processes, time and resource pressures, unclear roles and responsibilities, poor multidisciplinary working, and inflexible models for referral and prescribing. These provide valuable insight into how professionals work together and independently within an infrastructure that can both support and hinder the provision of effective community palliative care.
ConclusionsWhilst the GSF is a guide for good practice, alone it is not a mechanism for change. Rather it provides a framework for describing quality of practice that was already occurring. Consequently, there will continue to be variations in practice.
SUBMITTER: Hackett J