“We’re certainly not in our comfort zone”: a qualitative study of GPs’ dementia-care educational needs [2017]

Background
Rising dementia prevalence rates rise combined with the policy objective of enabling people with dementia to remain living at home, means that there will be a growing demand for dementia care in the community setting. However, GPs are challenged by dementia care and have identified it as an area in which further training is needed. Previous studies of GPs dementia care educational needs have explored the views of GPs alone, without taking the perspectives of people with dementia and family carers into account. The aim of the study was to explore GPs’ dementia care educational needs, as viewed from multiple perspectives, in order to inform the design and delivery of an educational programme for GPs.

Methods
A qualitative study of GPs, people with dementia and family carers in a community setting was undertaken. Face-to-face interviews were performed with GPs, people with dementia and with family carers. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.

Results
Thirty-one people were interviewed, consisting of fourteen GPs, twelve family carers and five people with dementia. GPs expressed a wish for further education, preferentially through small group workshops. Five distinct educational needs emerged from the interviews, namely, diagnosis, disclosure, signposting of local services, counselling and the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPSD). While GPs focused on diagnosis, disclosure and BPSD in particular, people with dementia and family carers emphasised the need for GPs to engage in counselling and signposting of local services.

Conclusions
The triangulation of data from multiple relevant sources revealed a broader range of GPs’ educational needs, incorporating both medical and social aspects of dementia care. The findings of this study will inform the content and delivery of a dementia educational programme for GPs that is practice-relevant, by ensuring that the curriculum meets the needs of GPs, patients and their families.

Tony Foley, Siobhán Boyle, Aisling Jennings & W. Henry Smithson
BMC Family Practice, Volume 18, Article number: 66 (2017)
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