Most terminally ill patients prefer to die at home, and the general practitioner (GP) is central in making this possible. However, knowledge is needed about the GP's level of confidence in assuming this task and with subcutaneous (SC) administration of medicine in end-of-life care. The aim of this study was to determine if GPs used SC needle and medication in end-of-life care, if they felt confident about being principally responsible for palliative trajectories and whether such confidence was associated with GP characteristics.
This was a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of all 332 GPs practising in Copenhagen, Denmark. Questions covered the GPs' use of SC medication/needle and their confidence in being principally responsible for palliative trajectories.
The survey response rate was 61%. 43% of the respondents had been principally responsible for a minimum of one palliative trajectory, and only 11% of these GPs had used a SC needle during this process. 57% felt very or somewhat confident being principally responsible and 27% felt very or somewhat confident administrating SC medicine. Confidence as principally responsible was positively associated with the number of palliative trajectories for which the GP had been responsible, but no significant associations with the GPs' age, gender or practice organisation were found.
We found that few GPs in Copenhagen feel very confident about being responsible for terminal care and that very few used SC needles. Hence, more education and training in this field is warranted. Further research is needed into how GPs may best become involved and supported in end-of-life care.
Danish General Practitioners' Educational and Development Fund.