GPs' use and understanding of the benefits and harms of treatments for long-term conditions: A qualitative interview study
Treadwell J., Crocker J., Rushforth A., Mahtani K., Greenhalgh T.
Background To support shared decision making and improve the management of polypharmacy, it is recommended that GPs take into account quantitative information on the benefits and harms of treatments (QIRx). Quantitative evidence shows GPs' knowledge of this is low. Aim To explore GPs' attitudes to and understanding of QIRx for long-term conditions. Design and setting Qualitative interview study in UK general practice. Method Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 15 GPs. Audiorecordings were transcribed verbatim and a framework approach was used for analysis. Results Participants described knowing or using QIRx for only a few treatments. There was awareness of this knowledge deficit coupled with low confidence in statistical terminology. Some GPs perceived an absence of this information as an important barrier to optimal care, while others were content to follow guidelines. In the absence of this knowledge, other strategies were described to individualise treatment decisions. The idea of increasing the use of QIRx appealed to most participants, with imagined benefits for patients and themselves. However, potential barriers were described: A need for accessible information that can be understood and integrated into real-world practice, system factors, and communication challenges. Conclusion GPs were aware of their knowledge deficit with regard to an understanding of QIRx. Most participants were positive about the idea of increasing their use of QIRx in practice but described important challenges, which need to be considered when designing solutions.