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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Mixed-method exploratory study of general practitioner and nurse perceptions of a new community based nurse-led heart failure service
Author(s): MacKenzie, Emma
Smith, Amanda
Angus, Neil J
Menzies, Sue
Brulisauer, Franz
Leslie, Stephen
Keywords: barriers
heart failure
specialist nurse
Issue Date: Oct-2010
Citation: MacKenzie E, Smith A, Angus NJ, Menzies S, Brulisauer F & Leslie S (2010) Mixed-method exploratory study of general practitioner and nurse perceptions of a new community based nurse-led heart failure service, Rural and Remote Health, 10 (4), p. 1510.
Abstract: Introduction: The treatment of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) remains sub-optimal. Specialist CHF nurses are proven to improve care and reduce admission but developing such services, especially in remote areas, can be difficult. This study aimed: first, to assess the perceived acceptability and effectiveness of a new community based nurse-led heart failure service by general practitioners (GPs) in an area with a dispersed population; second, to assess the knowledge and learning needs of GPs; and third, to assess perceptions of the use of national guidelines and telehealth on heart failure management. Methods: The study was conducted in the Scottish Highlands, a large geographical area in the north of the UK which includes both rural and urban populations. The area has a total population of 240 000, approximately 60% of whom are within 1 hour travel time of the largest urban centre. A postal survey of all GPs (n = 260) and structured email survey of all CHF specialist nurses (n = 3) was performed. All responses were entered into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, summarised and subjected to thematic analysis. Differences between GPs in ‘rural’, ‘urban’ or both ‘urban & rural’ was investigated using an F-test for continuous variables and a three-sample test for equality of proportions for nominal data. Results: Questionnaires were returned from 83 GPs (32%) and all three CHF specialist nurses. In this sample there were only a few differences between GPs from ‘rural’, ‘urban’ and ‘urban & rural’. There also appeared to be little difference in responses between those who had the experience of the CHF nurse service and those who had not. Overall, 32 GPs (39%) wished better, local access to echocardiography, while 63 (76%) wished access to testing for brain natriuretic peptide (BNP). Only 27 GPs (33%) referred all patients with CHF to hospital. A number of GPs stated that this was dependant on individual circumstances and the patient’s ability to travel. The GPs were confident to initiate standard heart failure drugs although only 54 (65%) were confident in the initiation of beta-blockers. Most GPs (69%) had had experience of the CHF specialist nurse service and the responses were mixed. The GPs who had experienced the service appeared less confident that it would lead to reduced admission of patients to hospital (51% vs 77%, p = 0.046). Three main themes emerged from the nurse responses: service planning, communication and attitudinal changes after service embedment. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that a community based heart failure nurse service was not universally valued. Differences between urban and rural localities (communication) suggest that models of care derived from evidence based practice in urban areas may not be directly transferable to remote areas. Clearly, good communication among staff groups at all stages of implementation is important; however, despite best efforts and clinical trial evidence, specialist nurse services will not be welcomed by all doctors. Service providers and commissioners should be cognisant of the different roles of urban and rural GPs when designing such services. Among GPs there was a high degree of confidence with initiation and titration of drugs for heart failure with the exception of beta-blockers so clearly this is an area of ongoing educational need and support. Education and support should focus on ensuring that all doctors who care for patients with CHF have the skills and confidence to use medical therapies and specialist services as appropriate.
Rights: Authors retain copyright.

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