BACKGROUND: The best possible care for frail older patients at the end of life can require the integration of geriatric and palliative approaches, possibly with different accentuations at different times. General practitioners (GP) are particularly important in this context: they provide patients with low-threshold primary care close to their homes and provide both general palliative care and geriatric services.
OBJECTIVE: What are the challenges for GPs in caring for frail older patients at the end of their lives?
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A secondary data analysis of 52 qualitative interviews was carried out, which were serially obtained at 4 points in time over a period of 18 months with 14 family doctors. In addition, one focus group with five GPs took place. The analysis was carried out according to the principles of grounded theory.
RESULTS: The results show that GPs see the care of frail older patients at the end of their lives through a) the growing number of older people, b) multimorbidity and complexity of the problem areas, c) the integration of geriatric and palliative approaches, d) the high average age of general practitioners and the lack of junior staff and e) the problem of ensuring care in rural areas as a major challenge. The practical transition between geriatric and palliative care is considered by GPs to be fluid and there is a desire for more integration of both disciplines.
CONCLUSION: In this study GPs perceived a large overlap between geriatric and palliative care. Both approaches should be offered for a selection of patients as a combined service. In the future a systematic network between GPs and geriatricians in practices, clinics, and day clinics will be necessary.
BACKGROUND: The focus of this project is on improving the provision of primary palliative care (PC) by general practitioners (GPs). While approximately 10-15% of the incurable, seriously ill or dying people will be in need of specialist PC, the vast majority can be adequately treated within generalist care. The strengthening of the GP's role in PC, as well as ensuring close collaboration between specialist PC services and GPs have been identified as top priorities for the improvement of PC in Germany. Despite healthcare policy actions, diverse obstacles still exist to successful implementation of primary PC on a structural, process, and economic level. Therefore, this project aims at addressing barriers and facilitators to primary PC delivery in general practice in Germany.
METHODS: The study follows a three-step approach; first, it aims at systematically analyzing barriers and facilitators to primary PC provision by GPs. Second, based on these outcomes, a tailored intervention package will be developed to enhance the provision of primary PC by GPs. Third, the intervention package will be implemented and evaluated in practice. The expected outcome will be an evidence-based model for successful implementation of primary PC delivery tailored to the German healthcare system, followed by a strategic action plan on how to improve current practice both on a local level and nationally.
DISCUSSION: The first step of the project has been partly completed at the time of writing. The chosen methodologies of four sub-projects within this first step have opened up different advantages and disadvantages for the data collection. In sum of all sub-projects, the different methodologies and target groups contributed valuable information to the systematic analysis of barriers and facilitators to primary PC provision by GPs.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study (BMBF-FK 01 GY 1610) was retrospectively registered at the German Clinical Trials Register (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien) (Registration N° DRKS00011821 ; date of registration: December 04th 2017) and at the German Register of health care research (Versorgungsforschung Deutschland - Datenbank) (Registration N° VfD_ALLPRAX_16_003817 ; date of registration: March 30th 2017).