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Implementation of Primary Palliative Care in five Belgian regions

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Subtitle:a qualitative study on early identification of palliative care needs by general practitioners
Background To deliver optimal palliative care, a Care Pathway for Primary Palliative Care (CPPPC) was developed. This CPPPC was implemented by general practitioners (GPs) in territories of five Belgian palliative care networks (2014–2016). Belgian doctors have much therapeutic freedom, and do not commonly follow guidelines. Objectives To assess how palliative care was provided by GPs before the CPPPC and its implementation project were presented publicly. Methods Between 2013 and 2015, seven focus groups with GPs were conducted. Participants included 15 GPs in three French-speaking focus groups and 26 GPs in four Dutch-speaking focus groups, with diversity for age, gender, palliative care experience and practice context. Some GPs implemented the CPPPC later. Results GPs considered each palliative care case unique and disliked strict protocols. However, they expressed a need for peer review and reflective frameworks. GPs felt it is important to identify palliative care patients ‘timely’, but found this difficult. Screening methods help, but are not widely used. GPs struggled most with identifying palliative care needs in non-oncological patients. Bad news breaking was considered difficult. Continuity of care was considered very important. However, advance care planning seemed more widely practised by Dutch-speaking GPs than by French-speaking GPs. The taboo of palliative care provoked emotional discussions. Conclusion Palliative care frameworks which help GPs to deliver ‘tailor-made’ care have more chance to be adopted than strict protocols. GPs should be given education for bad news breaking. Palliative care and advance care planning practices differ locally: guideline dissemination plans should respect these local differences.
Journal: European Journal of General Practice
ISSN: 1381-4788
Volume: 26
Pages: 146 - 153
Publication year:2020