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Family doctors’ attitudes toward peer support programs for type 2 diabetes and/or coronary artery disease: an exploratory survey among German practitioners

BMC Prim Care. 2022 Aug 31;23(1):220. doi: 10.1186/s12875-022-01827-3.


BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and coronary artery disease (CAD) are chronic illnesses where adherence to a healthy lifestyle is crucial. If organisational and cultural factors are well managed, Peer support programs (PSP) can improve self-management, quality of life, and health outcomes. In preparation for launching a PSP, we surveyed family doctors (FD) about their attitudes toward such a program and about potential barriers, and facilitators.

METHODS: In March 2020 we surveyed 896 FDs from five university teaching practice networks in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, via an anonymous web-based survey. The questionnaire addressed details of PSPs, including suitable patients and FDs’role. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics; qualitative material underwent content analysis by two researchers.

RESULTS: A total of 165 FDs responded (response rate: 18.4%), 97% were practice owners. Respondents viewed PSPs positively (T2D: 92.0%, CAD 89.9%), especially for patients with poor self-structuring (82.7%), low motivation (76.3%) and few social contacts (67.6%). On average, FDs were able to identify 4.0 ± 3.2 patients as potential group leaders. Major facilitators reported included motivation by peers (92.5%), exercise (79.1%), and social contacts (70.1%). Waning interest over time (73.1%) and poor motivation (70.9%) were considered barriers. The majority of FDs would recommend PSPs to their patients (89.5%). They considered such a program a valuable addition to current care (79.7%). The percentage of FDs’ who expected long-term benefits for their workload was relatively low (37.6%).

CONCLUSIONS: In an exploratory survey among German FDs on PSPs, respondents viewed PSPs as a valuable add-on for T2D and CAD patients, while not expecting a positive impact on their workload. Communication with FDs on PSPs may need to highlight anticipated implementation outcomes such as benefits of PSPs to the practice.

PMID:36045339 | DOI:10.1186/s12875-022-01827-3

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