Background: Early identification of permanent hearing impairment in children enables appropriate intervention which reduces adverse developmental outcomes. The UK Government has introduced a universal hearing screening programme for neonates. All involved health professionals, including those in Primary Care, need to be aware of the service to enable them to offer appropriate support to their patients. A programme of information dissemination within Primary Care was therefore undertaken. The aim of the current study was to determine the extent to which the information had reached General Practitioners (GPs), the GPs' preferred mode of dissemination and the sources from which GPs accessed information
Methods: Postal questionnaire survey of a randomised sample of 1000 GPs in the Phase I pilot sites of the Neonatal Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP).
Results: Responses were received from 54.2% of the sample. Just under 50% of those responding had received information, 62.2% of respondents said they would like to receive more information and the preferred methods of dissemination were the written word and web-sites to allow access when needed. Few GPs perceive themselves to have a core role in the delivery of the NHSP and thence a need for knowledge in the subject. Many are keen to delegate detail to a third party, usually the health visitor, who has traditionally had responsibility for hearing screening.
Conclusions: Dissemination efforts for service developments of relevance to GPs should concentrate on advertising a website address via brief but memorable posted literature and/or articles in relevant journals and magazines. The website should be GP-friendly, and have a dedicated area for GPs including information of specific relevance and downloadable information sheets.