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Fam Pract. 2001 Dec;18(6):581-5.

GPs' attitudes to minor ailments.

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School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK.



It is generally considered that a significant proportion of 'inappropriate' demand for GP services is generated by consultations for minor ailments. How GPs manage minor ailments is likely to affect how patients perceive and handle similar illnesses in the future. Whilst this potentially has significant implications for general practice workload, research investigating GP' attitudes towards minor ailments and their management is sparse.


Our aim was to describe GP' experiences and perceptions of minor ailment consultations and their attitudes towards minor ailment management.


A questionnaire survey was conducted in 1999, derived from a series of 20 qualitative interviews with practising GPs. The survey was sent to one GP randomly selected from each practice (n = 759) in eight English health authorities. Attitudinal statements were analysed using factor analysis.


Four hundred and fourteen GPs (54.5%) completed and returned the questionnaire. Respondents were consulted regularly about minor illness or symptoms, with almost all (95.6%) having experienced a minor ailment consultation in the previous week. Factor analysis suggested four issues to be of importance in determining GP' attitudes to minor ailment management. These were attitudes towards pharmacists, attitudes towards patient empowerment, frustration with minor ailment consultations and attitudes towards caution/risk.


Although GPs are clearly frustrated by the level of minor ailment consultations, this study suggests that there may be complex factors which influence their attitudes. For the optimal management of minor ailments, inter-professional relationships potentially are of great importance. With increasing patient demand, it is essential that finite health care resources are accessible, appropriate and used in an optimal way.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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