Author(s): Roberts C, Adebajo AO, Long S
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To determine the support services general practitioners (GPs) need when working with patients who have musculoskeletal problems and their educational needs in order to deliver an improved service. METHODS: GPs (n=446) on the Sheffield and Barnsley principal lists were sent a questionnaire (53.8\% response rate). Semistructured interviews of a purposive sample of 10 GPs were analysed qualitatively to increase understanding of the research objectives. RESULTS: GPs were self-confident in managing common musculoskeletal conditions such as gout (86\% of GPs who replied), back pain (69\%), osteoarthritis (62\%) and sporting injuries (58\%) entirely within the surgery. Despite high levels of confidence in diagnosing non-specific pain syndromes, 68\% of GPs would refer to a rheumatologist. Most GPs (68\%) were happy with their current referral rates to physiotherapists and 65\% of GPs in this sample provided a personal injection service. Reduction of inappropriate prescribing of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs would be helped by better patient education materials on treatments (90\%) and more resources for the primary care physiotherapy service (85\%). Half of the GPs had had specific musculoskeletal training within the last 5 yr. Half of the GPs planned to update their knowledge and skills in the next year, 64\% of these preferring a taught interactive course, 50\% wanting to sit in with a consultant in clinic and 46\% preferring to learn as part of a personal learning plan. CONCLUSIONS: GPs feel confident managing the majority of musculoskeletal conditions within the surgery provided they have adequate support in terms of opportunities for appropriate education, particularly joint injection techniques, ongoing consultant support for complex cases with poor outcomes, particularly non-specific pain syndromes, adequate access to physiotherapy, and a multidisciplinary approach to pain control and inappropriate prescribing.
This article was published in Rheumatology (Oxford)
and referenced in Rheumatology: Current Research