Childhood long-term conditions in primary care: a qualitative study of practitioners’ views

Background Improving child health and wellbeing in England was the key focus of the Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report 2012, which recommended that all children with long-term conditions (LTCs) have a named GP responsible for their care. Little is known, however, about practitioners’ views and experiences of supporting children with LTCs in primary care.

Aim To explore practitioners’ views of supporting children with LTCs and their families in primary care.

Design and setting Qualitative interview study in primary care settings in South Yorkshire, England.

Method Interviews explored practitioners’ views and experiences of supporting children with asthma, cystic fibrosis, type 1 diabetes, and epilepsy. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using the framework approach.

Results Nineteen practitioners were interviewed: 10 GPs, five practice nurses, and four nurse practitioners. The GPs’ clinical roles included prescribing and concurrent illness management; nurse practitioners held minor illness clinics; and practice nurses conduct asthma clinics and administer immunisations. GPs were coordinators of care and provided a holistic service to the family. GPs were often unsure of their role with children with LTCs, and did not feel they had overall responsibility for these patients. Confidence was dependent on experience; however, knowledge of GPs’ own limits and accessing help were felt to be more important than knowledge of the condition.

Conclusion Primary care has a valuable role in the care of children with LTCs and their families. This study suggests that improving communication between services would clarify roles and help improve the confidence of primary care practitioners.

Childhood long-term conditions in primary care: a qualitative study of practitioners’ views by , et al.  British Journal of General Practice, published 1st September 2015.

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