A qualitative study of the barriers and enablers to fertility-awareness education in general practice

J Adv Nurs. 2016 Jul;72(7):1541-51. doi: 10.1111/jan.12931. Epub 2016 Mar 9.


Aims: To understand the barriers and enablers to fertility-awareness education in general practice.

Background: Most women along with their primary care practitioners - general practitioners and practice nurses - believe that women should be educated about fertility-awareness when first reporting trouble conceiving. To date, no in-depth study has examined the enablers and challenges of this type of education in general practice.

Design: A descriptive exploratory qualitative study using deductive content analysis.

Methods: General practitioners (N = 11) and practice nurses (N = 20) were recruited from general practices in three socioculturally diverse areas in Victoria, Australia. Data were collected through semistructured interviews based on the 12 domains of a theoretical behaviour change framework from April-August 2012. The participants' responses were organized into themes that fall under the framework domains.

Findings: The biggest barriers to fertility-awareness education in general practice were short consultations and time constraints faced by general practitioners together with a lack of patient educational materials and remuneration to support its delivery. The biggest enablers were a greater use of nurses trained in fertility-awareness in a collaborative team care arrangement with general practitioners.

Conclusion: This study has identified several important barriers and enablers to fertility-awareness education in general practice. Translation into practice of our findings is imperative as the first step in establishing a primary care model in fertility-awareness. This would fill an important gap in the primary care of infertile women and build capacity in general practice to reduce infertility through women's enhanced fertility knowledge.

Keywords: family planning; fertility-awareness; general practice; infertility; midwifery; nursing; primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fertility
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female*
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Victoria