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Open Access Research article

Australian general practitioners’ perspectives on their role in well-child health care

Adrian Jeyendra1, Jeremy Rajadurai1, Joanna Chanmugam1, Alan Trieu1, Suraj Nair1, Radheshan Baskaran1 and Virginia Schmied2*

Author affiliations

1 Institutional Address: University of Western Sydney – School of Medicine, (Building 30), Goldsmsith Avenue, Campbelltown, NSW, 2560, Australia

2 Institutional Address: University of Western Sydney – School of Nursing and Midwifery, Victoria Rd, Parramatta, NSW, 2150, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:2  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-2

Published: 3 January 2013

Abstract

Background

In a General Practitioner (GP) setting, preventative medicine is reported as the predominant source of health care for the well-child. However, the role of the GP in well-child health care is not well understood in Australia. The aim of this study was to describe the role of the GP in providing services for well-children and families in Australia.

Methods

This was a qualitative descriptive study. Face-to-face interviews were held with 23 GPs to identify their role in the provision of well-child health care. Participants worked in a variety of general practice settings and 21 of the 23 GPs worked in the Greater Western Sydney area.

Results

Five main themes were identified in the analysis: ‘prevention is better than cure’, ‘health promotion: the key messages’, ‘working with families’, ‘working with other health professionals’, and ‘barriers to the delivery of well-child health services’.

Conclusions

Participating GPs had a predominantly preventative focus, but in the main well-child care was opportunistic rather than proactive. The capacity to take a primary preventative approach to the health of children and families by GPs is limited by the increasing demands to manage chronic disease. Serious consideration should be given to developing collaborative models of care where GPs are joined up with services funded by State and Territory governments in Australia, such as the universal maternal child and family health nursing services that have well children and families as their prime focus.

Keywords:
General practitioner; Well-child; Family; Role; Australian