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Judgements about fellow professionals and the management of patients receiving palliative care in primary care: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2008
<mark>Journal</mark>British Journal of General Practice
Issue number549
Volume58
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)264-272
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Background
Policies emphasise the importance of collaborative working in community palliative care. Collaborations are generally formed through formal and informal referral processes, but little is known about what influences professionals' decisions to refer to such services.
Aim
To explore the influences on referrals within general and specialist community palliative care services.
Design of study
Qualitative, multiple-case study.
Setting
Three primary care trusts in the north-west of England.
Method
Multiple data collection methods were employed, including documentary analysis, observation of referral team meetings and interviews. This paper primarily reports data from interviews with 47 health professionals, including GPs, district nurses, and specialist palliative care professionals.
Results
Judgements — positive and negative — about aspects of fellow professionals' performances appeared to influence referral decisions and ongoing collaboration and care. Attributes upon which these judgements were based included professional responsiveness and communication, respect, working and workload management practices, perceived expertise, and notions of elite practice. The effects of such judgements on referral and healthcare practices were altered by professional `game playing' to achieve professionals' desired outcomes.
Conclusion
Palliative care policies and protocols need to take account of these complex and subtle influences on referrals and collaboration. In particular, teamwork and partnership are encouraged within palliative care work, but critical judgements indicate that such partnerships may be difficult or fragile. It is likely that such judgemental attitudes and practices affect many aspects of primary care, not just palliative care.