Investigating referral pathways from primary care to consumer health organisations

Aust J Prim Health. 2010;16(3):260-7. doi: 10.1071/PY09081.


While chronic disease places an increasing burden on Australia's primary care system it is unrealistic to expect GPs to meet the range of support needs experienced by patients managing chronic conditions. Consumer health organisations (CHO) have the potential to augment clinical care by providing a variety of supportive services; however, they are underutilised by patients and GPs. This qualitative study investigates GPs' knowledge and perceptions of CHO and their contributions to chronic disease care. The study involved semi-structured interviews with 10 GPs. Overall, participants demonstrated clear understanding of the role of CHO in chronic disease management, but a critical finding was the way GPs' view of their own chronic care role appears to influence referral practices. GPs operating in a traditional role were less likely to refer to CHO than those who had adopted a chronic care approach. A second key finding related to GPs' views of Diabetes Australia. All GPs identified this organisation as an important referral point, providing some reassurance that CHO can be integrated into the primary care sector. Further research is needed to determine how the 'definite advantages' associated with Diabetes Australia can be used to extend GP referral and enhance the health system's integration of other CHO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Queensland
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Self Care
  • Social Support
  • Voluntary Health Agencies*