Objective: To assess whether efforts to actively involve General Practitioners (GPs) in the postdischarge care of their paediatric asthma patients improved their satisfaction with communication with hospital staff.
Methodology: Randomized controlled trial involving 60 patients admitted to the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, with acute asthma and an identifiable GP. The GPs of the intervention patients were telephoned during the admission. Intervention patients and their GPs received printed information detailing the care the patient received in hospital and the recommended postdischarge care, as well as standardized educational booklets about asthma. Follow-up appointments were made for intervention patients to attend their GPs.
Results: The GPs of intervention patients were more satisfied when compared to the GPs receiving a standard level of communication (96.4% vs 48.3% of the intervention and control GPs, respectively, described the communication as good or extremely good, P = 0.0001). The intervention group GPs believed they were more involved after discharge (75.0% vs 44.8%, P = 0.005) and had greater understanding of their patient's hospitalisation (96.4% vs 62.1%, P = 0.005). These differences were noted despite there being no difference in the rate of follow-up attendance with GPs for intervention and control patients (85.7% vs 72.4%, P = 0.2). Qualitative data supported these findings with GPs expressing approval of the intervention used.
Conclusion: Efforts to actively involve GPs in the postdischarge care of their paediatric patients with asthma resulted in a marked improvement in their satisfaction with the communication with medical staff at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne. The study had insufficient power to demonstrate a difference in morbidity.