The University of Limerick Education and Research Network for General Practice (ULEARN-GP): practice characteristics and general practitioner perspectives.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:A well-functioning general practice sector that has a strong research component is recognised as a key foundation of any modern health system. General practitioners (GPs) are more likely to collaborate in research if they are part of an established research network. The primary aims of this study are to describe Ireland's newest general practice-based research network and to analyse the perspectives of the network's members on research engagement. METHOD:A survey was sent to all GPs participating in the network in order to document practice characteristics so that this research network's profile could be compared to other national profiles of Irish general practice. In depth interviews were then conducted and analysed thematically to explore the experiences and views of a selection of these GPs on research engagement. RESULTS:All 134 GPs responded to the survey. Practices have similar characteristics to the national profile in terms of location, size, computerisation, type of premises and out of hours arrangements. Twenty-two GPs were interviewed and the resulting data was categorised into subthemes and four related overarching themes: GPs described catalysts for research in their practices, the need for coherence in how research is understood in this context, systems failures, whereby the current health system design is prohibitive of GP participation and aspirations for a better future. CONCLUSION:This study has demonstrated that the research network under examination is representative of current trends in Irish general practice. It has elucidated a better understanding of factors that need to be addressed in order to encourage more GPs to engage in the research process.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Primary care research networks have been established internationally since the 1960s to enable diverse practitioners to engage in and develop research and education and implement research evidence.The newly established Western Research and Education Network (WestREN) is one such network consisting of a collaboration between the Discipline of General Practice at NUI Galway and 71 West of Ireland general practices. In September 2009 all member practices were issued with a questionnaire with two objectives: to describe the structure and characteristics of the member practices and to compare the results to the national profile of Irish general practice. METHODS: A postal survey was used followed by one written and one email reminder. RESULTS: A response rate of 73% (52/71) was achieved after two reminders.Half of practices were in a rural location, one quarter located in an urban setting and another quarter in a mixed location.Ninety-four per cent of general practitioners practice from purpose-built or adapted premises with under 6% of practices being attached to the general practitioner's residence. Over 96% of general practitioners use appointment systems with 58% using appointment only.All practices surveyed were computerised, with 80% describing their practices as 'fully computerised'. Almost 60% of general practitioners are coding chronic diagnoses with 20% coding individual consultations. Twenty-five per cent of general practitioners were single-handed with the majority of practices having at least two general practitioners, and a mean number of general practitioners of 2.4. Ninety-two per cent of practices employed a practice nurse with 30% employing more than one nurse.Compared to the national profile, WestREN practices appear somewhat larger, and more likely to be purpose-built and in rural areas. National trends apparent between 1982 and 1992, such as increasing computerisation and practice nurse availability, appear to be continuing. CONCLUSIONS: WestREN is a new university-affiliated general practice research network in Ireland. Survey of its initial membership confirms WestREN practices to be broadly representative of the national profile and has provided us with valuable information on the current and changing structure of Irish general practice.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The provision of minor surgical services is an established part of the task profile of general practitioners (GPs) in many countries in Europe and elsewhere. This study aimed to collect data on the clinical process and outcomes for specified minor surgical procedures undertaken in Irish general practice by GPs experienced in minor surgery in order to document the scope and safety of minor surgery being undertaken.<h4>Methods</h4>Over a six-month period, 24 GPs in 20 practices recorded data on a pre-determined list of procedures undertaken in adults (aged 18 and older); procedures for ingrown toenails were also recorded for those aged 12-18?years. Clinical data were rendered fully anonymous by the participating GPs, entered onto the Excel database template and returned to the project team monthly.<h4>Results</h4>On average, each practice undertook 212 procedures in a six-month period. The four most frequent procedures include two relatively non-invasive procedures (cryosurgical ablation of skin lesions and aspiration and/or injection of joints) and two more invasive procedures (full thickness excision of skin lesion and shave, punch or incisional biopsy). Overall, 83.8% of relevant specimens were submitted for histology. Combining benign and malignant cases, there was an overall 87% clinical and histological concordance; 85% of malignancies were suspected clinically. A complication was recorded in 0.9% after 1 month.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Irish GPs with experience in minor surgery can provide a range of surgical services in the community safely.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Falls are common among older people, and General Practitioners (GPs) could play an important role in implementing strategies to manage fall risk. Despite this, fall prevention is not a routine activity in general practice settings. The iSOLVE cluster randomised controlled trial aimed to evaluate implementation of a fall prevention decision tool in general practice. This paper sought to describe the strategies used and reflect on the enablers and barriers relevant to successful recruitment of general practices, GPs and their patients. METHODS:Recruitment was conducted within the geographical area of a Primary Health Network in Northern Sydney, Australia. General practices and GPs were engaged via online surveys, mailed invitations to participate, educational workshops, practitioner networks and promotional practice visits. Patients 65?years or older were recruited via mailed invitations, incorporating the practice letterhead and the name(s) of participating GP(s). Observations of recruitment strategies, results and enabling factors were recorded in field notes as descriptive and narrative data, and analysed using mixed-methods. RESULTS:It took 19?months to complete recruitment of 27 general practices, 75 GPs and 560 patients. The multiple strategies used to engage general practices and GPs were collectively useful in reaching the targeted sample size. Practice visits were valuable in engaging GPs and staff, establishing interest in fall prevention and commitment to the trial. A mix of small, medium and large practices were recruited. While some were recruited as a whole-practice, other practices had few or half of the number of GPs recruited. The importance of preventing falls in older patients, simplicity of research design, provision of resources and logistic facilitation of patient recruitment appealed to GPs. Recruitment of older patients was successfully achieved by mailed invitations which was a strategy that was familiar to practice staff and patients. Patient response rates were above the expected 10% for most practices. Many practices (n =?17) achieved the targeted number of 20 or more patients. CONCLUSIONS:Recruitment in general practice settings can be successfully achieved through multiple recruitment strategies, effective communication and rapport building, ensuring research topic and design suit general practice needs, and using familiar communication strategies to engage patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION:The trial was prospectively registered on 29 April 2015 with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry www.anzctr.org.au (trial ID: ACTRN12615000401550).
Project description:There is no published health-system-wide framework to guide antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) in general practice. The aim of this scoping review was to identify the component parts necessary to inform a framework to guide AMS in general practice. Six databases and nine websites were searched. The sixteen papers included were those that reported on AMS in general practice in a country where antibiotics were available by prescription from a registered provider. Six multidimensional components were identified: 1. Governance, including a national action plan with accountability, prescriber accreditation, and practice level policies. 2. Education of general practitioners (GPs) and the public about AMS and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). 3. Consultation support, including decision support with patient information resources and prescribing guidelines. 4. Pharmacist and nurse involvement. 5. Monitoring of antibiotic prescribing and AMR with feedback to GPs. 6. Research into gaps in AMS and AMR evidence with translation into practice. This framework for AMS in general practice identifies health-system-wide components to support GPs to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing. It may assist in the development and evaluation of AMS interventions in general practice. It also provides a guide to components for inclusion in reports on AMS interventions.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:We developed a complex intervention called DECIDE (ComputeriseD dECisIonal support for suboptimally controlleD typE 2 Diabetes mellitus in Irish General Practice) which used a clinical decision support system to address clinical inertia and support general practitioner (GP) intensification of treatment for adults with suboptimally controlled type2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The current study explored the feasibility and potential impact of DECIDE. DESIGN:A pilot cluster randomised controlled trial. SETTING:Conducted in 14 practices in Irish General Practice. PARTICIPANTS:The DECIDE intervention was targeted at GPs. They applied DECIDE to patients with suboptimally controlled T2DM, defined as a glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) ?70?mmol/mol and/or blood pressure ?150/95?mmHg. INTERVENTION:The intervention incorporated training and a web-based clinical decision support system which supported; (i) medication intensification actions; and (ii) non-pharmacological actions to support care. Control practices delivered usual care. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES:Feasibility and acceptability was determined using thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with GPs, combined with data from the DECIDE website. Clinical outcomes included HbA1c, medication intensification, blood pressure and lipids. RESULTS:We recruited 14 practices and 134 patients. At 4-month follow-up, all practices and 114 patients were followed up. GPs reported finding decision support helpful navigating increasingly complex medication algorithms. However, the majority of GPs believed that the target patient group had poor engagement with GP and hospital services for a range of reasons. At follow-up, there was no difference in glycaemic control (-3.6?mmol/mol (95%?CI -11.2 to 4.0)) between intervention and control groups or in secondary outcomes including, blood pressure, total cholesterol, medication intensification or utilisation of services. Continuation criteria supported proceeding to a definitive randomised trial with some modifications. CONCLUSION:The DECIDE study was feasible and acceptable to GPs but wider impacts on glycaemic and blood pressure control need to be considered for this patient population going forward. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:ISRCTN69498919.
Project description:(1) Background: It has been shown that online interventions can be enhanced by providing additional support; accordingly, we developed an implementation plan for the use of an eHealth intervention targeting physical activity and healthy nutrition in collaboration with general practitioners (GPs). In this study, GPs and patients evaluated the actual implementation; (2) Methods: Two hundred and thirty two patients completed the feasibility questionnaire regarding the implementation of "MyPlan 1.0" in general practice. Individual interviews were conducted with 15 GPs who implemented "MyPlan 1.0" into their daily work flow; (3) Results: The majority of the patients indicated that general practice was an appropriate setting to implement the online intervention. However, patients were not personally addressed by GPs and advice/action plans were not discussed with the GPs. The GPs indicated that this problem was caused by the severe time restrictions in general practice. GPs also seemed to select those patients who they believed to be able to use (e.g., highly educated patients) and to benefit from the intervention (e.g., patients with overweight); (4) Conclusions: Although GPs were involved in the development of the online intervention and its implementation plan, the programme was not used in general practice as intended.
Project description:The UK Government document 5 year forward view describes the need to move chronic disease management from secondary to primary care, which will require a significant increase in the numbers of General Practice Nurses (GPNs). Until recently, there has been no specific recruitment strategy to address this increased need. In recent times, a number of solutions have been suggested to address this impending GPN recruitment crisis. For example, Health Education England (HEE) commission General Practitioners (GPs), who are members of the Advanced Training Practice Scheme (ATPS), to provide placements for student nurses within general practice.A descriptive qualitative study was undertaken, in which data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 16 GPs and 2 GPN partners*. Qualitative analysis used a framework approach and themes were cross-checked within the team and member checking was undertaken with a convenience sample of GPs. The research had ethical approval and anonymity and confidentiality were maintained.From the GP perspective, there were two key themes that emerged from the data. The first theme of 'fishing in the same small pond' included succession planning for the general practice workforce, the 'merry go round' of poaching staff from other practices, and the myths and misunderstandings that have grown up around general practice nursing. The second theme, 'growing your own', looked at the impact of the student nurse placements as a means to address the crisis in GPN recruitment. There was recognition of the need for cultural change in the way that GPNs are recruited, and that the ATPS was one way of helping to achieve that change. There were however a number of challenges to sustaining this cultural shift, such as the financial constrains placed upon the GP practice, and the need to function as a 'small business'.Despite all the challenges, the evidence is that, through the Community of Practice (CoP), the ATPS scheme is beginning to 'bear fruit', and there is a subtle but discernible move by GPs from a 'why would we?' to 'why wouldn't we?' invest in education and training for nurses in general practice. N.B. The term GPN partner* denotes a GPN who is a 'full partner' in the practice business, holding the same NHS contracts and the same status as a GP. For the purposes of the paper itself, the term GP will be used to denote both types of partner.
Project description:<h4>Objectives</h4>While early diagnosis of dementia is important, the question arises whether general practitioners (GPs) should engage in direct referrals. The current study investigated current referral practices for neuroimaging in dementia, access to imaging modalities and investigated related GP training in Ireland and North Wales.<h4>Methods</h4>A questionnaire was distributed to GPs in the programme regions which included approximately two thirds of all GPs in the Republic of Ireland and all general practitioners in North Wales. A total of 2,093 questionnaires were issued.<h4>Results</h4>48.6% of Irish respondents and 24.3% of Welsh respondents directly referred patients with suspected dementia for neuroimaging. Irish GPs reported greater direct access to neuroimaging than their Welsh counterparts. A very small percentage of Irish and Welsh GPs (4.7% and 10% respectively) had received training in neuroimaging and the majority who referred patients for neuroimaging were not aware of any dementia-specific protocols for referrals (93.1% and 95% respectively).<h4>Conclusions</h4>The benefits of direct GP access to neuroimaging investigations for dementia have yet to be established. Our findings suggest that current GP speciality training in Ireland and Wales is deficient in dementia-specific and neuroimaging training with the concern being that inadequate training will lead to inadequate referrals. Further training would complement guidelines and provide a greater understanding of the role and appropriateness of neuroimaging techniques in the diagnosis of dementia.
Project description:BACKGROUND: There is extensive evidence of health inequality across ethnic groups. Inequity is a complex social phenomenon involving several underlying factors, including ethnic discrimination. In the field of health care, it has been established that ethnic discrimination stems partially from bias or prejudice on the part of doctors. Indeed, it has been hypothesized that patient ethnicity may affect doctors' social cognition, thus modifying their social interactions and decision-making processes. General practitioners (GPs) are the primary access point to health care for ethnic minority groups. In this study, we examine whether patient ethnicity affects the relational and decisional features of doctoring. METHODS: The sample was made up of 171 Belgian GPs, who were each randomly allocated to one of two experimental conditions. One group were given a hypertension vignette case with a Belgian patient (non-minority patient), while the other group were given a hypertension vignette case with a Moroccan patient (minority patient). We evaluated the time devoted by GPs to examining medical history; time devoted by GPs to examining socio-relational history; cardiovascular risk assessments by GPs; electrocardiogram (ECG) recommendations by GPs, and drug prescriptions by GPs. RESULTS: We observed that for ethnic minority patients, GPs prescribed more drugs and devoted less time to examining socio-relational history. Neither cardiovascular risk assessments nor ECG recommendations were affected by patient ethnicity. GPs who were very busy devoted less time to examining medical history when dealing with minority patients. CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that GPs discriminated against ethnic minority patients when it came to medical decisions. However, our study did identify a risk of drugs being used inappropriately in some ethnic-specific encounters. We also observed that, with ethnic minority patients, GPs engage less in the relational dimension of doctoring, particularly when working within a demanding environment. In general practice, the quality of the relationship between doctor and patient is an essential component of the effective management of chronic illness. Our research highlights the complexity of ethnic discrimination in general practice, and the need for further studies.
Project description:There are almost no studies about rare diseases in general practice. This study examined care characteristics of active rare disease patients in the Belgian Network of Sentinel General Practices (SGP) and the importance of rare diseases in general practice by its caseload, general practitioner (GP)?patient encounter frequency and nationwide prevalence. The SGP reported data about: (i) the number of active rare disease patients in 2015; and (ii) characteristics of one to three most recently seen patients. Rare diseases were matched against Orphanet (www.orpha.net). GP encounter frequency and patients' age were compared to the total general practice population. Details from 121 active patients (median age: 44, interquartile range (IQR) 24?60) showed that for 36.9% the GP had been the first caregiver for the rare disease and for 35.8% the GP established a diagnostic referral. GPs rated their knowledge about their patients' disease as moderate and used Orphanet for 14.9% of patients. Any active rare disease patients (median: 1, IQR 0?2) were reported by 66 of 111 SGP. Compared to the total general practice population, the mean GP encounter frequency was higher (7.3; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 6.1?8.5 versus 5.4; 95% CI 5.4?5.4). The prevalence of rare diseases in the Belgian general practice population was estimated at 12.0 (95% CI 10.3?13.9) per 10,000. This study acknowledges the important role of GPs in rare disease care. Knowledge and use of Orphanet by GPs could be improved.