The brave new world of older patients: preparing general practice training for an ageing population

Prim Health Care Res Dev. 2015 Nov;16(6):578-88. doi: 10.1017/S1463423614000589. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


Aim: Develop and pilot test evidence-based resources for general practice training practices to enhance older patients' (65+ years) interactions with General Practice Registrars (GPRs).

Background: In Australia, general practice trainees, referred to as GPRs, see fewer older patients and patients with chronic conditions than doctors who have completed their specialist GP training. This reduces learning opportunities for GPRs in the management of these important patient groups. Therefore, developing effective strategies to improve GPR-older patient interaction is critical to primary care training, to meet the current and future needs of an ageing population.

Methods: Adopting a social marketing approach, GPR practice resources were developed to address knowledge and attitudinal barriers at the practice and patient level to improve older patient comfort, and willingness to engage, with GPR care. Two focus groups with older patients (n=18) and interviews with staff of training practices (n=12) were utilised to pre-test resources. Amended resources were pilot tested and evaluated in a naturalistic GPR training practice setting using a structured patient questionnaire (n=44).

Findings: Pilot evaluation suggests improved comfort and willingness of older patients to interact with GPRs. In all, 54% of survey participants indicated they would be more likely to make an appointment with a Registrar in the future as a result of exposure to the resources. In all, 40% of patients would feel comfortable having a GPR manage a complex or chronic condition, which compares favourably with 28% of similarly aged patients in previous research. The use of tailored, engaging and informative GPR resources for older patients and practice staff may be an important contributor to addressing the growing problem of ensuring GPRs are adequately engaged in treating older patients. The adoption of a social marketing framework was instrumental in enhancing the acceptance and effectiveness of this intervention.

Keywords: general practice; older patients; registrar training; social marketing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Female
  • General Practice / education*
  • General Practitioners / education*
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires