To explore how a group of Swedish general practitioners (GPs) manage patients with a sore throat in relation to current guidelines as expressed in interviews.
Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse semi-structured interviews.
Swedish primary care.
A strategic sample of 25 GPs.
Perceived management of sore throat patients.
It was found that nine of the interviewed GPs were adherent to current guidelines for sore throat and 16 were non-adherent. The two groups differed in terms of guideline knowledge, which was shared within the team for adherent GPs while idiosyncratic knowledge dominated for the non-adherent GPs. Adherent GPs had no or low concerns for bacterial infections and differential diagnosis whilst non-adherent GPs believed that in patients with a sore throat any bacterial infection should be identified and treated with antibiotics. Patient history and examination was mainly targeted by adherent GPs whilst for non-adherent GPs it was often redundant. Non-adherent GPs reported problems getting patients to abstain from antibiotics, whilst no such problems were reported in adherent GPs.
This interview study of sore throat management in a strategically sampled group of Swedish GPs showed that while two-thirds were non-adherent and had a liberal attitude to antibiotics one-third were guideline adherent with a restricted view on antibiotics. Non-adherent GPs revealed significant knowledge gaps. Adherent GPs had discussed guidelines within the primary care team while non-adherent GPs had not. Guideline implementation thus seemed to be promoted by knowledge shared in team discussions.
Excessive antibiotics use increases the risk of resistance. Previous studies have shown that the Centor score combined with Rapid Antigen Detection Test (RADT) for Group A Streptococci can reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing in patients with sore throat. According to the former Swedish guidelines RADT was recommended with 2-4 Centor criteria present and antibiotics were recommended if the test was positive. C- reactive protein (CRP) was not recommended for sore throats. Inappropriate use of RADT and CRP has been reported in several studies.
From a larger project 16 general practitioners (GPs) who stated management of sore throats not according to the guidelines were identified. Half-hour long semi-structured interviews were conducted. The topics were the management of sore throats and the use of near-patient tests. Qualitative content analysis was used.
The use of the near-patient test interplayed with the clinical assessment and the perception that all infections caused by bacteria should be treated with antibiotics. The GPs expressed a belief that the clinical picture was sufficient for diagnosis in typical cases. RADT was not believed to be relevant since it detects only one bacterium, while CRP was considered as a reliable numerical measure of bacterial infection.
Inappropriate use of near-patient test can partly be understood as remnants of outdated knowledge. When new guidelines are introduced the differences between them and the former need to be discussed more explicitly.
Cites: Br J Gen Pract. 2000 Oct;50(459):780-111127165
Cites: Lancet. 2001 Aug 11;358(9280):483-811513933
In Sweden three key criteria are used for priority setting: severity of the health condition; patient benefit; and cost-effectiveness. They are derived from the ethical principles established by the Swedish parliament 1997 but have been used only to a limited extent in primary care. The aim of this study was to describe and analyse: 1) GPs', nurses', and patients' prioritising in routine primary care 2) The association between the three key priority setting criteria and the overall priority assigned by the GPs and nurses to individual patients.
Paired questionnaires were distributed to all patients and the GPs or nurses they had contact with during a 2-week period at four health centres in Sweden. The staff registered the health conditions or health problem, and the planned intervention. Then they estimated the severity of the health condition, the expected patient benefit, and the cost-effectiveness of the planned intervention. Both the staff and the patients reported their overall prioritisation of the patient. In total, 1851 paired questionnaires were collected.
Compared to the medical staff, the patients assigned relatively higher priority to acute/minor conditions than to preventive check-ups for chronic conditions. Severity of the health condition was the priority setting criterion that had the strongest association with the overall priority for the staff as a whole, but for the GPs it was cost-effectiveness.
The challenge for primary care providers is to balance the patients' demands with medical needs and cost-effectiveness. Transparent priority setting in primary care might contribute to a greater consensus between GPs and nurses on how to use the key priority setting criteria.
Cites: Philos Public Aff. 1997 Fall;26(4):303-5011660435