Programme no. 330-OP
Public Health
Self-reported confidence, skills and awareness among Danish general practitioners on palliative needs of patients with malignant and non-malignant diseases
Anna Winthereik*1, Peter Vedsted2, Mette A. Neergaard3, Anders B. Jensen4
1Department of Oncology,Aarhus University Hospital,Aarhus,Denmark, 2Research Unit for General Practice,Aarhus University,Aarhus,Denmark, 3The Palliative Team,Aarhus University Hospital,Aarhus,Denmark, 4Department of Oncology,Aarhus University Hospital,Aarhus,Denmark
* = Presenting author
Objectives: To explore GPs’ confidence in providing palliative care, their palliative skills and their awareness of the palliative needs among patients suffering from malignant or non-malignant diseases.
Background: Palliative care has traditionally been provided merely to patients suffering from malignant disease. However, research has shown a palliative care approach is beneficial for patients suffering from life-threatening non-malignant diseases. General practitioners (GPs) have a pivotal role in basic palliative care, but the question is whether GPs feel confident about their role: Do they feel they possess sufficient palliative skills? Do they provide palliative care for patients suffering from conditions other than malignancies?
Results: 570 GPs (68%) answered the questionnaire. 76.3% (95%CI:72.8;79.8%) of the GPs felt very comfortable/comfortable with their role as key worker providing palliative care. When it came to palliative skills, the share of GPs who felt very confident/confident was 87.7% (95%CI: 84.4;89.9%) when treating pain, 67.9% (95%CI:64.0;71.7%) when treating dyspnoea and 55.2% (95%CI:51.0;59.3%) when administering subcutaneous medicine. 81.4% (95%CI:78.2;84.7%) felt very confident/confident about meeting the patient’s psychological needs, while the proportion was 63.6% (95%CI:59.6;67.6%) for meeting the social needs. 85% (95%CI:81.7; 87.7%) stated that they always/often offered palliative care to patients suffering from cancer. For patients suffering from heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the corresponding proportions were only 34.4% (95%CI:30.4;38.3%) and 40.4% (95%CI:36.3; 44.5%), respectively.

Analyses are ongoing and further results will be presented.

Material/Methods: A postal questionnaire study among GPs in the Central Denmark Region in the spring of 2014. The pilot-tested questionnaire was based on previously used questions together with ad hoc questions based on existing literature.
Conclusion: The findings so far suggest that a disparity does exist as most GPs state they more often offer palliative care to patients suffering from cancer than to patients suffering from COPD or heart failure. The study indicates that there is room for improving the awareness among GPs about the palliative needs in patients with non-malignant diseases.
Points for discussion: How can awareness of palliative care be optimised so that it depends on the patient’s needs rather than the specific diagnosis?