Commissioning health education in primary care

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38958.498484.80 (Published 28 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:667
  1. Kristin McCarthy (kmccarthy@bma.org.uk), joint chief executive,
  2. Pamela Prentice (pprentice@bma.org.uk), joint chief executive
  1. Developing Patient Partnerships, London WC1 9JP
  2. Developing Patient Partnerships, London WC1 9JP

    Primary care trusts must give all patients timely access to relevant, high quality health information

    In the United Kingdom most people acknowledge personal responsibility for their own health,1 and 87% say they have to be “really ill” to visit the doctor.2 Yet most general practitioners who responded to a study in Family Practice said that they are often consulted about illnesses or symptoms that they consider to be minor.3 Meanwhile, people with chronic conditions that are treatable continue to present late to their general practitioners.4 How can we explain these apparent contradictions? Most general practitioners regularly provide education and information to patients, but the message and style of this information is often not optimal. A Reader's Digest survey in 2005 found that more than four fifths of the population rely on information from their general practitioners and over half use health leaflets from their surgery or pharmacy. Even so, market research conducted for the policy group Developing Patient Partnerships found that nearly three quarters of respondents would be less likely to visit their general practitioner if they had more information about managing common ailments.

    A recent international study that compared data from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States, and Germany with the four …

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