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Facilitators and barriers to general practitioner and general practice nurse participation in end-of-life care: systematic review


Background General practitioners (GPs) and general practice nurses (GPNs) face increasing demands to provide palliative care (PC) or end-of-life care (EoLC) as the population ages. To enhance primary EoLC, the facilitators and barriers to their provision need to be understood.

Objective To provide a comprehensive description of the facilitators and barriers to GP and GPN provision of PC or EoLC.

Method Systematic literature review. Data included papers (2000 to 2017) sought from Medline, PsycInfo, Embase, Joanna Briggs Institute and Cochrane databases.

Results From 6209 journal articles, 62 reviewed papers reported the GP’s and GPN’s role in EoLC or PC practice. Six themes emerged: patient factors; personal GP factors; general practice factors; relational factors; co-ordination of care; availability of services. Four specific settings were identified: aged care facilities, out-of-hours care and resource-constrained settings (rural, and low-income and middle-income countries). Most GPs provide EoLC to some extent, with greater professional experience leading to increased comfort in performing this form of care. The organisation of primary care at practice, local and national level impose numerous structural barriers that impede more significant involvement. There are potential gaps in service provision where GPNs may provide significant input, but there is a paucity of studies describing GPN routine involvement in EoLC.

Conclusions While primary care practitioners have a natural role to play in EoLC, significant barriers exist to improved GP and GPN involvement in PC. More work is required on the role of GPNs.

  • communication
  • chronic conditions
  • home care
  • education and training
  • service evaluation
  • supportive care

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