Publication details for Professor APS HunginFuat, A., Hungin, A.P.S. & Murphy, J.J. (2003). Barriers to accurate diagnosis and effective management of heart failure in primary care: qualitative study. British Medical Journal 326(7382): 196-200.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0959-8138
- DOI: 10.1136/bmj.326.7382.196
- View online: Online version
- Durham research online: DRO record
Author(s) from Durham
- Professor APS Hungin
- Dr Ahmet Fuat
Objective: To ascertain the beliefs, current practices, and decision making of general practitioners in the diagnosis and management of suspected heart failure in primary care, with a view to identifying barriers to good care.
Design: A qualitative approach using focus groups with 30 general practitioners from four primary care groups. The sampling strategy was stratified and purposive. The contents of interviews were transcribed and analysed according to the principles of "pragmatic variant" grounded theory.
Setting: North east England.
Results: Three categories of difficulties contribute to variations in medical practice and to the reasons why general practitioners experience difficulties in diagnosing and managing heart failure. The first is uncertainty about clinical practice, including lack of confidence in establishing an accurate diagnosis and worries about using angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, blockers, and spironolactone in patients who are often elderly and frail, with comorbidity and polypharmacy. The second is a lack of awareness of relevant research evidence in what was perceived to be a complex and rapidly changing therapeutic field. Doubts about the applicability of research findings in primary care, and fear of information overload also emerged. The third category consists of influences of individual preference and local organisational factors. Medical training, negative clinical experiences, and outside agencies influenced the behaviour of general practitioners and professional culture. Local factors included the availability of diagnostic services, resources (such as accessible cardiologists), and interactions between professionals in primary or secondary care, and they seemed to shape the practice and decision making processes in primary care.
Conclusions: The national service framework for coronary heart disease stresses that the substandard care of patients with heart failure is unacceptable. This study identified barriers to be overcome across primary and secondary care in implementation strategies that are specific to the locality and multifaceted. Single strategiesfor example, the provision of guidelinesare unlikely to have an impact on clinical outcomes, and new, conjoint models of care need to be explored.