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The whole process is also more feasible if the practice collaborates with others who have relevant skills or programs (eg allied health providers such as Quitline counsellors, diabetes educators). Collaboration with the patient is also an essential element and part of the patient-centred approach. Knowledge of local services, supports and agencies can facilitate collaboration. The local PHN should be aware of potential partners and supports.
Nevertheless, better collaboration is often challenging. Groups tend to promote an inwardly focused identity and values. Similarly, group members develop strong in-group norms and behaviours that collectively create mental or physical boundaries. This makes it more difficult for external agents and persons to engender networked behaviours and collaboration.105
Strategies to improve collaboration include:105
As part of GASP, GPs and PNs were offered an opportunity to enhance their counselling skills in smoking cessation by attending a 2.5-hour workshop on motivational interviewing and brief behaviour change. There were two workshop leaders: a GP and a Quitline counsellor. Several strategies were used to enhance the recognition and referral to Quitline counsellors:
The benefits of involving the Quitline counsellor were many. GPs and PNs saw, first hand, the high-level skills and competencies of a Quitline counsellor. This had several follow-on effects, including greater subsequent referrals to the Quitline and greater preparedness of the practices to use PNs as counsellors. It saved the GPs time and many PNs embraced the opportunity to improve counselling skills that they have used with a number of different patient groups, including patients with asthma and diabetes.
Participants commented positively on the conjoint approach and how it added to the effectiveness of the GP and practice team intervention. They reported that Quitline referrals in their practices were subsequently monitored and improved.
– Assoc Prof John Litt and the GASP team, including Flinders University and Quitline South Australia
Provision of best practice in both prevention and management of chronic illness would add an additional 9–10 hours to a normal day,106,107 making it difficult to provide high levels of prevention outside a partnership approach. Partnerships and collaboration operate at different levels: between the GP and patient; PNs and patient; GPs, PNs and practice team; and between the practice, PHN and/or the broader community and the health system.
There is evidence that when GPs and PNs regard patients as active partners in seeking preventive healthcare advice, patients are more likely to adhere to treatment plans.108,109 This requires teamwork and respect for others’ ideas and views.110 Referring to, and communicating with, certain services and community agencies may be the most cost effective way of providing particular types of prevention activities for patients. Improving the integration of preventive activities through greater collaboration leads to enhanced effectiveness and efficiency.96,111
A range of other players and agencies are involved in promoting health and preventing disease. A number of studies40,112 have demonstrated that collaboration and teamwork is associated with the largest gains in prevention outcomes. Partnerships are associated with improved delivery of care.
Putting Prevention into Practice. The Green Book (PDF 306KB)