OBJECTIVE: A national needs assessment of Canadian gastroenterologists and gastroenterology nurses was undertaken to determine the perceived and unperceived educational and performance barriers to caring for patients with Crohn’s disease (CD).
METHODS: A triangulated, mixed-method approach (qualitative and quantitative) was used to determine the nature and extent of knowledge gaps and barriers in the care of patients with CD.
RESULTS: Qualitative interviews were conducted with nine gastroenterologists, four gastroenterology nurses and nine patients with CD. Based on this exploratory research, a survey was designed and launched nationally (37 gastroenterologists, 36 gastroenterology nurses). Findings indicated that Canadian gastroenterologists and gastroenterology nurses lacked clarity regarding their roles and responsibilities across the continuum of CD care, and face communication gaps within the health care team, undermining their effectiveness. Gastroenterologists identified challenges in optimal diagnosis due to unclear testing and diagnostic criteria. They recognized knowledge gaps when treating patient subgroups and in prescribing biological therapies. Furthermore, gastroenterologists self-identified gaps in skill, knowledge, and confidence in monitoring disease progression and effectively assessing response to therapy. When managing patients with CD, gastroenterologists expressed challenges with patient issues outside their domain of medical expertise, particularly with the skills needed to facilitate effective patient communication and education that would enhance adherence to recommended treatments.
CONCLUSIONS: Educational initiatives should address diagnostic and treatment guidelines, as well as enhancement of clinical performance gaps in health care team processes and the patient-professional therapeutic relationship. To impact care and patient outcomes, these initiatives must be relevant to clinical practice settings and applicable to the practice context.