The bottom line

June 2010

Research

General practice registrars

Attitudes of older patients

Volume 39, No.6, June 2010 Pages 419-424

Andrew Bonney

Sandra C Jones

Lyn Phillipson

Don Iverson

Background

Previous research indicates that older patients may be less willing to consult general practice registrars (GPRs), reducing training opportunities in chronic/complex care. This survey explores older patients’ attitudes in order to inform models of interaction that would be acceptable to patients.

Methods

Ten training general practices distributed questionnaires for self completion to 50 patients aged 60 years and over. Chi-square, Spearman’s rho and logistic regression were used for analysis.

Results

The response rate was 47%. Ninetysix percent wanted ongoing contact with their general practitioner if they saw a GPR. Twenty-four percent were comfortable with GPR chronic/complex care, increasing to 73% when there was contact with their usual GP during the consultation.

Discussion

This study quantifies a widespread reluctance among older patients to GPRs managing chronic/complex conditions, which could be significantly improved by maintaining a relational link with their regular GP. These results give guidance for training practices and warrant further investigation.

The aging population has brought with it a well described increase in general practice activity in the care of older patients and those with chronic medical problems.1 General practice needs to ensure adequate training for general practice registrars (GPRs) in the management of the elderly and chronically ill as these patients will represent a significant proportion of future general practitioners’ caseload.2 However, GPRs’ contact with older patients may be hampered by the preference of older patients,3,4 and those with chronic problems,4,5 for personal continuity in their general practice care. This preference may contribute to the lower consultation rate of older and chronically ill patients with GPRs in Australia.2

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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