General practitioners and end-of-life care

This qualitative study explores the views of general practitioners (GPs) and specialist palliative care clinicians (SPCCs) on the roles GPs should play in the planning and provision of end-of-life care. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 11 GPs and 10 SPCCs. The participants identified two key roles that GPs should play in end-of-life care: care planning and referring to palliative care services, and being the primary clinician in charge of care. Although GPs and SPCCs expressed similar views, a signification number of the GP participants were not actively involved in end-of-life care. Factors that affected GPs’ involvement in end-of-life care included: GP and practice factors including continuity of care, long-term relationships with patients, knowledge and skills in end-of-life care, resource limitations and work patterns; communication and collaboration between GPs and the acute healthcare system; and communication and collaboration between GPs and SPCCs. Initiatives to improve the continuity of care and development of long-term relationships with patients are strategies that should be explored to encourage GPs to become more involved in end-of-life care.

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