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General practitioners' and primary care nurses' care for people with disabilities: quality of communication and awareness of supportive services

Authors Storms H, Marquet K, Claes N

Received 3 May 2017

Accepted for publication 12 July 2017

Published 20 September 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 367—376


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Hannelore Storms,1 Kristel Marquet,1,2 Neree Claes1,3

1Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium; 2Quality and Safety Department, Jessa Hospital, Hasselt, Belgium; 3vzw Wit-Gele Kruis Limburg, Genk, Belgium

Background: General practitioners (GPs) and primary-care nurses (PCNs) often feel inexperienced or inadequately educated to address unmet needs of people with disabilities (PDs). In this research, GPs’ and PCNs’ communication with PDs and health care professionals, as well as their awareness of supportive measures relevant to PDs (sensory disabilities excluded), was examined.
Materials and methods: An electronic questionnaire was sent out to 545 GPs and 1,547 PCNs employed in Limburg (Belgium). GPs and PCNs self-reported about both communication with parties involved in care for PDs (scale very good, good, bad, very bad) and their level of awareness of supportive measures relevant for PDs (scale unaware, inadequately aware, adequately aware).
Results: Of the questionnaire recipients, 6.6% (36 of 545) of GPs and 37.6% (588 of 1,547) of PCNs participated: 68.8% of 32 GPs and 45.8% of 443 PCNs categorized themselves as communicating well with PDs, and attributed miscommunication to limited intellectual capacities of PDs. GPs and PCNs reported communicating well with other health care professionals. Inadequate awareness was reported for tools to communicate (88.3% of GPs, 89% of PCNs) and benefits for PDs (44.1% of GPs, 66.9% of PCNs).
Conclusion: GPs’ and PCNs’ lacking awareness of communication aids is problematic. Involvement in a multidisciplinary, expert network might bypass inadequate awareness of practical and social support measures.

Keywords: nursing care, disability, primary care, family medicine, networks, integrated care, unmet needs, quality, accessibility

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