2015-03-14Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1186/s12875-015-0249-2
‘We can do only what we have the means for’ general practitioners’ views of primary care for older people with complex health problems
Background: Due to demographic change, general practitioners (GPs) are increasingly required to care for older people with complex health problems. Little is known about the subjective appraisals of GPs concerning the demanded changes. Our objective is to explore how general practitioners view their professional mandates and capacities to provide comprehensive care for older people with complex health problems. Do geriatric training or experience influence viewpoints? Can barriers for the implementation of changes in primary care for older people with complex health problems be detected? Methods: Preceding a controlled intervention study on case management for older patients in the primary care setting (OMAHA II), this qualitative study included 10 GPs with differing degrees of geriatric qualification. Semi structured interviews were conducted and audio-taped. Full interview transcripts were analyzed starting with open coding on a case basis and case descriptions. The emerging thematic structure was enriched with comparative dimensions through reiterated inter-case comparison and developed into a multidimensional typology of views. Results: Based on the themes emerging from the data and their presentation by the interviewed general practitioners we could identify three different types of views on primary care for older people with complex health problems: ‘maneuvering along competence limits’, ‘Herculean task’, and ‘cooperation and networking’. The types of views differ in regard to role-perception, perception of their own professional domain, and action patterns in regard to cooperation. One type shows strong correspondence with a geriatrician. Across all groups, there is a shared concern with the availability of sufficient resources to meet the challenges of primary care for older people with complex health problems. Conclusions: Limited financial resources, lack of cooperational networks, and attitudes appear to be barriers to assuring better primary care for older people with complex health problems. To overcome these barriers, geriatric training is likely to have a positive impact but needs to be supplemented by regulations regarding reimbursement. Most of all, general practitioners’ care for older people with complex health problems needs a conceptual framework that provides guidance regarding their specific role and contribution and assisting networks. For example, it is essential that general practice guidelines become more explicit with respect to managing older people with complex health problems.
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