Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Dr Moira O'Connor

Abstract

The study explores regional general practitioners' attitudes to palliative care through semi- structured interviewing using a qualitative methodology. Attitudes to palliative care were examined using the general practitioners' accounts of their experiences and perceptions of caring for terminally ill patients. The participants were ten registered general practitioners located within the Greater Sunbury Division of General Practice in the South West of Western Australia. A semi-structured interview schedule containing ten open-ended questions was used to assess regional general practitioners' attitudes to palliative care. Examples of the research questions included: What are regional general practitioners' attitudes to palliative care? What supports are needed by the general practitioners to provide palliative care? The transcripts were analysed using a question-ordered matrix which identified recurring themes within the data five themes were identified: namely, quality of life, emotional issues, multidisciplinary collaboration, education and training, and funding issues. Barriers to provision of palliative care by regional general practitioners included the potential for increased specialisation of palliative care in the field of medicine, funding issues, government bureaucracy, and the poor coping strategies of families of terminally ill patients. The supports needed to provide palliative care were identified as the multidisciplinary palliative care team, continuing education and training in pain and symptom control and spiritual issues, and a telephone helpline. Overall, it was shown that regional general practitioners' attitudes to palliative care were positive and the provision of palliative care was fundamental to the role of a regional general practitioner. Results suggested there is a need for the continued expansion and development of regional palliative care services and the continuing education and training of all regional health care professionals in the essentials of palliative care.

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