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World-class teaching and research that helps general practitioners and other health professionals deliver better care in the community.

  • Providing online weight management in Primary Care: A mixed methods process evaluation of healthcare practitioners' experiences of using and supporting patients using POWeR+

    3 April 2018

    © 2017 The Author(s). Background: An online weight management intervention (POWeR+) combined with a small amount of primary care healthcare practitioner support is effective in helping patients to lose weight, but little is known about how practitioners interact with the POWeR+ intervention or their experiences of providing support for patients using POWeR+. The aim of this study was to explore practitioners' usage of POWeR+ and their experiences of providing support to patients using POWeR+. Methods: Set within a randomised controlled trial of POWeR+, practitioners' usage of POWeR+ was automatically captured and a qualitative process analysis was conducted employing semi-structured telephone interviews with practitioners who provided support to patients using POWeR+. The usage analysis captured how 54 practitioners used the POWeR+ intervention. Thirteen telephone interviews explored practitioners' experiences of using POWeR+ and providing patients with face-to-face or remote (email and telephone) support. Interview data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: Usage analysis indicated that almost all practitioners engaged with POWeR+. Pages which displayed patients' progress and allowed practitioners to email patients were used the most. Practitioners found POWeR+ straightforward and easy to use. Some practitioners preferred providing support face-to-face, which they enjoyed more than remote support. A small number of nurses found providing non-directive support using the CARe approach (Congratulate, Ask, Remind) challenging, feeling it was the opposite of their normal approach. POWeR+ enabled practitioners to raise the topic of weight loss with patients, and POWeR+ was viewed as a superior alternative to existing weight management support which was limited in most practices. Still some practitioners found it difficult to fit providing support into their busy schedules. Conclusions: Overall, practitioners engaged well with POWeR+ and perceived providing patients with support whilst using POWeR+ as acceptable and feasible. CARe provides a potentially useful model for how practitioners can combine human and digital support in a cost-effective way, which could be useful for the management of other conditions. Some potential barriers to implementation were identified, which allowed modification of POWeR+. The findings suggest that implementing this cost-effective online weight management intervention in Primary Care would be feasible and acceptable to practitioners. Trial registration: ClinicalTrial.gov, ISRCTN21244703

  • Focus on early-career GPs: qualitative evaluation of a multi-faceted educational intervention to improve antibiotic prescribing.

    20 March 2018

    Background: We conducted an educational intervention emphasizing rational antibiotic prescribing in early-career General Practitioners (GP) in vocational training (trainees). The intervention consisted of an online introduction module, an online communication training module, face-to-face workshops, and cases to be discussed one-on-one by the trainee-supervisor dyad during regular scheduled education sessions. Objectives: To explore the participants' experiences with the intervention. Methods: A qualitative study of 14 GP trainees and supervisors. Interviews followed a semi-structured interview guide, were transcribed and analysed using concurrent thematic analysis. Results: Overall, the intervention was well received. Resources were not often used in practice, but GP trainees used the information in communicating with patients. The intervention improved trainees' confidence and provided new communication strategies, e.g. explicitly asking about patients' expectations and talking patients through the examination to form an overall clinical picture. Trainees seemed eager to learn and adapt their practice, whereas GP supervisors rather commented that the intervention was reinforcing. None of the participants reported prescribing conflicts between trainee and supervisor. However, most participants identified conflicts within the GP practice or with specialists: other doctors who prescribe more antibiotics perpetuate patients' ideas that antibiotics will fix everything, which in turn causes conflict with the patient and undermines attempts to improve antibiotic prescribing. Conclusion: The educational intervention was received positively. Early-career GPs thought it influenced their prescribing behaviour and improved their confidence in non-prescribing. Interventions that target teams (e.g. entire practice) could minimize conflict, ensure consistency of messages and support overall antibiotic stewardship in primary care.

  • Reducing early career general practitioners' antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections: a pragmatic prospective non-randomised controlled trial.

    20 March 2018

    Background: Inappropriate antibiotic prescription and consequent antibacterial resistance is a major threat to healthcare. Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of a multifaceted intervention in reducing early career general practitioners' (GPs') antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and acute bronchitis/bronchiolitis. Methods: A pragmatic non-randomized trial employing a non-equivalent control group design nested within an existing cohort study of GP registrars' (trainees') clinical practice. The intervention included access to online modules (covering the rationale of current clinical guidelines recommending non-prescription of antibiotics for URTI and bronchitis/bronchiolitis, and communication skills in management of acute bronchitis) followed by a face-to-face educational session. The intervention was delivered to registrars (and their supervisors) in two of Australia's seventeen regional GP training providers (RTPs). Three other RTPs were the control group. Outcomes were proportion of registrars' URTI consultations and bronchitis/bronchiolitis consultations prescribed antibiotics. Intention-to-treat analyses employed logistic regression within a Generalised Estimating Equation framework, adjusted for relevant independent variables. The predictors of interest were time; treatment group; and an interaction term for time-by-treatment group. The P value associated with an interaction term determined statistically significant differences in antibiotic prescribing. Results: Analyses include data of 217 intervention RTPs' and 311 control RTPs' registrars. There was no significant reduction in antibiotic prescribing for URTIs. For bronchitis/bronchiolitis, a significant reduction (interaction P value = 0.024) remained true for analysis adjusted for independent variables (P value = 0.040). The adjusted absolute reduction in prescribing was 15.8% (95% CI: 4.2%-27.5%). Conclusions: A multifaceted intervention reduced antibiotic prescribing for bronchitis/bronchiolitis but not URTIs.