Introducing extended consultations for patients with severe mental illness in general practice: Results from the SOFIA feasibility study

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People with a severe mental illness (SMI) have shorter life expectancy and poorer quality of life compared to the general population. Most years lost are due to cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and various types of cancer. We co-designed an intervention to mitigate this health problem with key stakeholders in the area, which centred on an extended consultations for people with SMI in general practice. This study aimed to1) investigate general practitioners’ (GPs) experience of the feasibility of introducing extended consultations for patients with SMI, 2) assess the clinical content of extended consultations and how these were experienced by patients, and 3) investigate the feasibility of identification, eligibility screening, and recruitment of patients with SMI.

The study was a one-armed feasibility study. We planned that seven general practices in northern Denmark would introduce extended consultations with their patients with SMI for 6 months. Patients with SMI were identified using practice medical records and screened for eligibility by the patients’ GP. Data were collected using case report forms filled out by practice personnel and via qualitative methods, including observations of consultations, individual semi-structured interviews, a focus group with GPs, and informal conversations with patients and general practice staff.

Five general practices employing seven GPs participated in the study, which was terminated 3 ½ month ahead of schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. General practices attempted to contact 57 patients with SMI. Of these, 38 patients (67%) attended an extended consultation, which led to changes in the somatic health care plan for 82% of patients. Conduct of the extended consultations varied between GPs and diverged from the intended conduct. Nonetheless, GPs found the extended consultations feasible and, in most cases, beneficial for the patient group. In interviews, most patients recounted the extended consultation as beneficial.

Our findings suggest that it is feasible to introduce extended consultations for patients with SMI in general practice, which were also found to be well-suited for eliciting patients’ values and preferences. Larger studies with a longer follow-up period could help to assess the long-term effects and the best implementation strategies of these consultations.
TidsskriftBMC Primary Care
Udgave nummer1
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
Open access funding provided by Royal Library, Copenhagen University Library KEU Region North funded this sub-study of the SOFIA project, which is supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation research grant (NNF16OC0022038) and the Copenhagen Center for Health Technology. None of the funding bodies had any role in the design of the study, the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, nor in the writing of the manuscript.

Funding Information:
The SOFIA study group wishes to thank all participating patients, general practitioners, practice staff and others involved. Particularly we would like to express our gratitude to Bolette Friderichsen, general practitioner and president of the Danish College of General Practitioners, for taking the initiative in this collaboration. According to the Danish Health Care Act, paragraph 42d, section 2, number 1-3, healthcare personnel are authorized to access patients’ medical records and to collect patient information for the purpose of quality improvement without the patients’ informed consent. All participants were anonymized, identifiers altered, and data derived from patients’ medical journals were encrypted. Data were stored and processed per the requirements of European General Data Protection Regulation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature.

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