'Aiming for the stars'—GPs' dilemmas in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetes patients: focus group interviews

Eva Fhärm, Olov Rolandsson, Eva E Johansson
Family Practice 2009, 26 (2): 109-14

BACKGROUND: Studies have revealed low adherence to guidelines for treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors.

OBJECTIVE: To explore GPs' experiences regarding treatment practice in type 2 diabetes with specific focus on the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

METHODS: Fourteen experienced GPs from nine health care centres with group practices were interviewed in focus groups. The interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed by qualitative content analysis.

RESULTS: The overall theme was 'dilemmas' in GPs' treatment practice for type 2 diabetes patients. Five main dilemma categories were identified. First, the GPs were hesitant about labelling someone who feels healthy as ill. Second, regarding communicating a diabetes diagnosis and its consequences; should the patient be frightened or comforted? Third, the GPs experienced uncertainty in their role; were they to take responsibility for the care or not? Fourth, the GPs expressed a conflict between lifestyle changes and drug treatment. Fifth, the GPs described difficulties in integrating science into reality.

CONCLUSIONS: The five dilemmas in the GPs' approach to diabetes patients and the treatment of their cardiovascular risk were related to the GPs' professional role and communication with the patient. To consider these dilemmas in educational efforts is probably essential to achieve improved diabetes care and guideline adherence.

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