Background: The community general practitioner (GP) has a central role in the provision of primary health care to people with intellectual disability (ID) as an indirect result of deinstitutionalization in Australia. This population, however, continues to experience poor health care compared to the general population. The current paper describes results from a questionnaire that aimed to identify the perceptions of practising GPs on the standards of health care for people with ID, the adequacy of prior training, and their interest in further education in relation to nine health care areas.
Method: A questionnaire was posted to a selective sample of 1272 practising GPs in Victoria selected from a database from the Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria and the Victorian Medical Directory of GPs registered with the Australian Medical Association. Data were available for 252 respondents with a response rate of 28.5%.
Results: The health areas in which many GPs reported to be inadequately trained were the same as those areas that were perceived as being of a poor standard. These areas were behavioural or psychiatric conditions, human relations and sexuality issues, complex medical problems, and preventative and primary health care. Ninety four per cent of respondents were interested in further education in at least one of the nine health care areas, with the most frequently nominated areas being behavioural or psychiatric conditions, syndrome-specific medical problems, human relations and sexuality issues and collaboration with government services. General practitioners did not nominate complex medical problems or preventative and primary health care for further education as frequently as they identified care in these areas to be substandard and their prior training inadequate.
Conclusions: The findings from the current research are discussed in relation to the implications for development of educational programmes based on learning needs identified by the GP. The most frequently nominated health care areas in all three questions were behavioural or psychiatric conditions and human relations and sexuality issues. Reasons for incongruence between the frequency of responses for complex medical problems and preventative and primary health care are explored.