General Practitioners' Attitudes to Palliative Care: a Western Australian Rural Perspective
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine
Background: People with a terminal illness and their families who live in rural or remote areas of Australia face difficulties in accessing palliative care services as a result of physical isolation. This leads to rural general practitioners (GPs) carrying the burden of care, which is often exacerbated by a lack of support staff. Objective: This research addressed the following questions: What are GPs' attitudes to palliative care in a rural center of Western Australia? What factors contribute to GPs' attitudes to palliative care in a rural center of Western Australia? What are the perceived barriers to the provision of palliative care in a rural center of Western Australia? Design: A qualitative in-depth research design was used for this study due to the exploratory nature of the research. A model of attitudes that considers an attitude as a summary evaluation of an issue based on: cognitive information, (thoughts and beliefs), affective or emotional information, and information concerning behavior, was used. Participants: Participants were 10 registered GPs located within the Greater Bunbury Division of General Practice in Western Australia. Results: Six themes emerged from the research: maintaining patients' quality of life, providing continuity of care, experiencing emotional issues, collaborating with a multidisciplinary team, acknowledging the need for education and training, and dealing with the wider context. Conclusion: Education and training for rural GPs needs to be relevant to the local context and needs to focus on emotions and beliefs.