Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Drivers for change in primary care of diabetes following a protected learning time educational event: interview study of practitioners

Aloysius Niroshan Siriwardena1*, Jo B Middlemass2, Kate Ward3 and Carol Wilkinson4

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health and Social Care, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK

2 Nottingham Primary Care Research Partnership, Nottingham County Teaching Primary Care Trust, Nottingham, UK

3 Research, Lincolnshire Teaching Primary Care Trust, Lincoln, UK

4 Independent researcher, Lincoln, UK

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BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:4  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-4

Published: 19 January 2008



A number of protected learning time schemes have been set up in primary care across the United Kingdom but there has been little published evidence of their impact on processes of care. We undertook a qualitative study to investigate the perceptions of practitioners involved in a specific educational intervention in diabetes as part of a protected learning time scheme for primary health care teams, relating to changing processes of diabetes care in general practice.


We undertook semistructured interviews of key informants from a sample of practices stratified according to the extent they had changed behaviour in prescribing of ramipril and diabetes care more generally, following a specific educational intervention in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. Interviews sought information on facilitators and barriers to change in organisational behaviour for the care of diabetes.


An interprofessional protected learning time scheme event was perceived by some but not all participants as bringing about changes in processes for diabetes care. Participants cited examples of change introduced partly as a result of the educational session. This included using ACE inhibitors as first line for patients with diabetes who developed hypertension, increased use of aspirin, switching patients to glitazones, and conversion to insulin either directly or by referral to secondary care. Other reported factors for change, unrelated to the educational intervention, included financially driven performance targets, research evidence and national guidance. Facilitators for change linked to the educational session were peer support and teamworking supported by audit and comparative feedback.


This study has shown how a protected learning time scheme, using interprofessional learning, local opinion leaders and early implementers as change agents may have influenced changes in systems of diabetes care in selected practices but also how other confounding factors played an important part in changes that occurred in practice.