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Doctors' perceptions of palliative care for heart failure: focus group study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Barbara Hanratty, Professor Carl May, Professor Christopher Ward

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Abstract

Objectives To identify doctors' perceptions of the need for palliative care for heart failure and barriers to change. Design Qualitative study with focus groups. Setting North west England. Participants General practitioners and consultants in cardiology, geriatrics, palliative care, and general medicine. Results Doctors supported the development of palliative care for patients with heart failure with the general practitioner as a central figure. They were reluctant to endorse expansion of specialist palliative care services. Barriers to developing approaches to palliative care in heart failure related to three main areas: the organisation of health care, the unpredictable course of heart failure, and the doctors' understanding of roles. The health system was thought to work against provision of holistic care, exacerbated by issues of professional rivalry and control. The priorities identified for the future were developing the role of the nurse, better community support for primary care, and enhanced communication between all the health professionals involved in the care of patients with heart failure. Conclusions Greater consideration should be given to the care of patients dying with heart failure, clarifying the roles of doctors and nurses in different specialties, and reshaping the services provided for them. Many of the organisational and professional issues are not peculiar to patients dying with heart failure, and addressing such concerns as the lack of coordination and continuity in medical care would benefit all patients.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Hanratty B, Hibbert D, Mair F, May C, Ward C, Capewell S, Litva A, Corcoran G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Medical Journal

Year: 2002

Volume: 325

Issue: 7364

Pages: 581-585

ISSN (print): 0007-1447

ISSN (electronic): 1756-1833

Publisher: BMJ Group

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7364.581

DOI: 10.1136/bmj.325.7364.581


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