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Br J Gen Pract. Aug 2001; 51(469): 615–618.
PMCID: PMC1314069

The barriers to effective management of heart failure in general practice.


BACKGROUND: Several studies have shown that most patients with heart failure are not investigated and treated according to published guidelines. More effective management could reduce both mortality and morbidity from heart failure. AIM: To identify the reasons for gaps between recommended and actual management of heart failure in general practice. DESIGN OF STUDY: A nominal group technique was used to elicit general practitioners' (GPs') perceptions of the reasons for differences between observed and recommended practice. SETTING: Ten Medical Research Council General Practice Framework practices in the North Thames region. METHOD: Data were collected on the investigation and treatment of heart failure in the 10 participating practices and presented to 49 GPs and 10 practice nurses from those practices. RESULTS: Of the 674 patients requiring echocardiograms, 226 were referred for echocardiography (34%), and 183/391 (47%) with probable heart failure were prescribed angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. A wide variety of barriers were elicited. The main barrier to the use of echocardiograms in the diagnosis of heart failure was lack of open access. The main barrier to the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in treating heart failure was GPs' concerns about their possible adverse effects. CONCLUSION: The barriers to the effective management of heart failure in general practice are complex. We recommend further research to establish whether multifaceted intervention programmes based on our findings can improve the management of heart failure in primary care.

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Selected References

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