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BMC Fam Pract. 2005 Mar 1;6(1):9.

General practitioner attitudes to the care of people with epilepsy: an examination of clustering within practices and prediction of patient-rated quality of care.

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School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Tower Building, Park Place, Box 901, Cardiff, UK.



There is wide variation in the quality of care provided by primary care practices to individuals with chronic illnesses. Individual doctor attitudes and interest have been demonstrated to influence patient outcomes in some instances. Given the trend towards larger practices and part-time working, continuity of care is likely to fall and thus practice-based rather than individual general practitioner attributes and attitudes are likely to become increasingly important. The aim in this paper was to examine the extent to which individual general practitioner (G.P.) attitudes to the care of people with epilepsy cluster within practices and predict patient-rated quality of care.


The sample consisted of 1255 people with active epilepsy (a recent seizure or on anti-convulsant medication for epilepsy) and 199 GPs from 82 general practices. Measures of GP attitudes (a 17-item GP attitudes questionnaire) and patient-rated quality of epilepsy care were obtained. 1210 individuals completed initial questionnaires and 975 patients filled in final questionnaires one year later. Responses were achieved from 64 practices (83% of total) and 115 GPs (60% of total).


2 main factors were found to underlie GP attitudes to the care of people with epilepsy and these demonstrated clustering within practices "epilepsy viewed as a primary care responsibility" (Eigenvalue 3.98, intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) 0.40), and "medication skills"(Eigenvalue 2.74, ICC 0.35). GP-rated scores on "epilepsy care being a primary care responsibility" were a significant predictor of patient-rated quality of GP care (p = 0.031). Other contributory factors were seizure frequency (p = 0.044), and patient-rated "shared decision making" (p = 0.022).


Specific general practitioner attitudes to the care of people with epilepsy cluster within practices and are significantly associated with patient-rated quality of epilepsy care. It is important to take these findings into consideration when planning primary care interventions to ensure people with epilepsy receive the benefits of available medical and surgical expertise.

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