Genetics Support to Primary Care Practitioners—A Demonstration Project
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Primary care practitioners need to be supported by specialist genetics services to enable them to cope effectively with the expanding relevance of genetics to their patients. Genetic counselors could be effective in such a role. This exploratory project set out to improve the Primary–Tertiary interface through piloting such a service to general practice for 1 year. Tailored genetic educational outreach was delivered by a genetic counselor to ten randomly selected general practices in central England for 12 months. A range of services were provided to the practices these included facilitated genetic update sessions, a responsive advice service and referral guidelines. The service was evaluated through pre and post intervention questionnaires and via seven semi-structured interviews. This article presents a description of the development and delivery of this service and also reports on the experiences of a sample of the participants. Participants reported positive attitudes to the service and said that they had gained knowledge and confidence, as well as recognized limitations and gaps in their current knowledge. The consistent link with a specialist genetics service provided by a genetic counselor had a positive impact during the project and participants have continued to utilize the genetic counselor for advice and support with genetic patient issues since the project was completed. This is the first example of this model of service provision. Further research, utilizing a larger sample and other measures of behavioral change needs to be carried out to assess whether this model should be adopted on a wider basis.
KeywordsGeneral practice Genetic counseling Community Primary care
The project team would like to thank all of the practices that took part in this project, and also those staff who kindly agreed to take part in an interview. Also Clara Gaff who kindly commented on the manuscript. This study was funded by the UK Department of Health as part of the first wave of genetics service development projects 2002-3 and NHS R&D task linked funding.
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