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Open Access Research article

General practitioners' evaluation of community psychiatric services: responsiveness to change of the General Practitioner Experiences Questionnaire (GPEQ)

Oyvind A Bjertnaes1*, Arjan Nieland2, Elisabeth Damerell2 and Andrew Garratt2

Author Affiliations

1 Department for Quality Measurement and Patient Safety, Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services, Oslo, Norway

2 Innlandet Hospital Trust, Hamar Community Mental Health Centre, Hamar, Norway

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:108  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-108

Published: 30 April 2010

Abstract

Background

Instruments have been developed to assess professional views of the quality of care but have rarely been tested for responsiveness to change. The objective of this study was to test the responsiveness of the General Practitioner Experiences Questionnaire (GPEQ) for the measurement of Community Mental Health Centres in Norway.

Methods

National surveys were conducted in Norway in 2006 (n = 2,415) and 2008 (n = 2,209) to measure general practitioners' evaluation of community mental health centres. GPs evaluated the centres by means of a postal questionnaire, consisting of questions focused on centre quality and cooperation with GPs. As part of the national surveys 75 GPs in 2006 and 66 GPs in 2008 evaluated Hamar community mental health centre. Between the surveys, several quality improvement initiatives were implemented which were directed at cooperation with and guidance for GPs in Stange municipality, one of eight municipalities in Hamar centre catchment area. The main outcome measures were changes in GPEQ scores from 2006 to 2008 for GPs evaluating Hamar community mental health centre from Stange municipality, and changes in scores for GPs in the other seven municipalities and nationally which were assessed for statistical significance.

Results

GPs in Stange municipality rated Hamar community mental health centre significantly better on the guidance scale in 2008 than in 2006; on a 0-100 scale where 100 represents the best possible experiences the score was 26.5 in 2006 and 58.3 in 2008 (p < 0.001). Apart from one item about workforce situation, none of the other scales and items showed significant changes. The control group from the other seven municipalities gave significantly poorer rating for the emergency situation scale, the workforce situation scale and seven items in 2008 than in 2006. The national results showed small differences between 2006 and 2008, even though several scales and items were significantly different. A question about changes in centre performance over the last 2-3 years showed that 82% of GPs from Stange municipality reported that Hamar community mental health centre had improved, compared to only 36% from the other seven municipalities and 40% nationally which was statistically significant.

Conclusions

Following the implementation of an initiative designed to enhance service quality, the GPEQ identified expected changes in the guidance scale for the intervention group, indicating that the instrument is responsive to change. The worsening of services for GPs in the control group evaluating Hamar centre warrants further study.