Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

General practitioner referrals to paediatric specialist outpatient clinics: referral goals and parental influence

Marina Kunin 1 , Erin Turbitt 1 , Sarah A. Gafforini 1 , Lena A. Sanci 2 , Neil A. Spike 2 , Gary L. Freed 1
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- Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

2 General Practice and Primary Health Care Academic Centre, Melbourne Medical School, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Correspondence to: Gary L. Freed, Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Level 4, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia. Email: gary.freed@unimelb.edu.au

Journal of Primary Health Care 10(1) 76-80 https://doi.org/10.1071/HC17030
Published: 29 March 2018

Journal Compilation © Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 2018.
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Previous research on general practitioner (GP) referrals in adult populations demonstrated that patient pressure influenced referral practice. No research has been conducted to investigate how involvement of a parent influences paediatric referrals.

AIM: To investigate whether GPs who report parental influence on their decision to refer paediatric patients differ in their referral patterns from GPs who do not report parental influence.

METHOD: A mail survey of 400 GPs who had referred at least two children to paediatric specialist outpatient clinics during 2014 was distributed.

RESULTS: The response rate was 67% (n = 254). For initial referrals, 27% of GPs stated that parental request frequently or almost always influenced their referral decision. For returning referrals, 63% of GPs experienced parental influence to renew a referral because a paediatrician wanted a child to return; 49% of GPs experienced influence to renew a referral because a parent wanted to continue care with a paediatrician. Experiencing parental influence was associated with increased likelihood for frequent referrals in order for a paediatrician to take over management of a child’s condition.

DISCUSSION: GPs who frequently refer with a goal for a paediatrician to take over management of a child’s condition also report that parental request almost always influences their decision to refer.

KEYWORDS: Primary care; secondary care; outpatients; child care; continuity of patient care; delivery of health care


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