Objectives: Involving practice nurse and other assistant clinical staff members in providing information and education to patients with low back pain at follow-up appointments may release more time and improve care in general practice. However, this requires a shift in the division of tasks, and general practitioners' barriers and facilitators for this are currently unknown. The objectives were to explore general practitioners' experiences and perceptions of including assistant clinical staff members in the management of low back pain.
Methods: This is a semi-structured interview study in Danish general practice. General practitioners with a variation in demographics and experience with task-delegation to clinical staff were recruited for in-depth interviews. We used a phenomenological approach to guide the data collection and the analysis in order to gain insight into the subjective experiences of the general practitioners and to understand the phenomenon of 'delegating tasks to practice staff' from the perspective of the general practitioners' lifeworld. Analysis was conducted using an inductive descriptive method. The sample size was guided by information power.
Results: We conducted five interviews with general practitioners. All general practitioners had experience with task delegation, but there was a variation in which tasks the general practitioners delegated and to which types of clinical staff members. The following themes were derived from the analysis: general practice organisation, delegating to clinical staff members, doctor-patient relationship, exercise instruction, clinical pathway for patients and external support.
Conclusion: General practitioners consider patients with low back pain to be a heterogeneous group with a variety of treatment needs and a patient group without any predetermined content or frequency of consultations; this can be a barrier for delegating these patients to clinical staff members.
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2021.
- Low back pain
- nursing staff
- general practice
- primary health care
- disease management