General practitioners' knowledge of and attitudes to inflammatory bowel disease

M Tan, Richard Holloway, K Lange, Jane Andrews

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    26 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic disease requiring long-term management. General practitioners (GPs) are often the first point of contact for initial symptoms and flares. Thus we assessed GPs' attitudes to and knowledge of IBD. Methods: A state-wide postal survey of GPs was performed collecting demographic details, practice and attitudes in IBD-specific management and knowledge. Results: Of 1800 GPs surveyed in South Australia, 409 responded; 58% were male, 80% Australian trained and 73% practised in metropolitan areas. Most GPs (92%) reported seeing zero to five IBD patients per month. Overall, 37% of the GPs reported being generally 'uncomfortable' with IBD management. Specifically, they were only somewhat comfortable in providing/using maintenance therapy, steroid therapy or unspecified therapy for an acute flare. They were uncomfortable with the use of immunomodulators and biologicals (71 and 91% respectively). No GP reported never referring, referring sometimes (12%), often (34%) or always (55%). Most (87%) GPs rated their communication with private specialists positively; while only 32% were satisfied with support from public hospitals. Of concern, most (70%) monitored patients on immunosuppression on a case-by-case basis rather than by protocol. In multivariable analyses, GPs' IBD-specific knowledge did not influence comfort with overall management, nor did knowledge influence GP comfort with any particular therapy. Conclusion: Individual GPs care for few IBD patients and have variable attitudes in their practice. Whether improvement can realistically be achieved given individual GP's paucity of patients is questionable. These data support the provision of better support and specific action plans for IBD patients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)801-807
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternal Medicine Journal
    Volume42
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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