General practitionersˈ experiences of managing patients with chronic leg ulceration
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OBJECTIVE: To understand general practitioners' experiences of managing patients with chronic leg ulceration, thus informing future strategies to improve leg ulcer care in general practice, Australia. DESIGN: Qualitative study using phenomenology and in-depth interviewing. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Maximum variation sample of 12 GPs working in the Perth and Hills Division of General Practice between September and December 2004. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Themes in participants' experiences of leg ulcer care. FINDINGS: Participants regarded leg ulcer management as an integral part of general practice. They expressed a desire to maintain their involvement, yet relied on nursing assistance. They perceived that ulcer care was usually straightforward and successful. Approaches to management appeared to differ significantly from that outlined in current guidelines. Instead, participants valued accessibility of care for the patient, awareness of patient context and regular review. Occasional problems with non-healing ulcers were experienced, and, in these situations, specialist opinion was appreciated. CONCLUSION: This study highlights fundamental differences between GP and specialist conceptualisation of leg ulcer care. For GPs, it identifies key areas of ulcer management that could be improved. For specialists, it suggests that widespread implementation of traditional guidelines may not be appropriate or acceptable. New approaches to leg ulcer management in general practice are likely to need a combination of education, human resources and practical support.
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