Challenges in the management of people with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in primary care: A qualitative study of general practitioner perspectives

Chronic Illn. 2021 Jan 5;1742395320983871. doi: 10.1177/1742395320983871. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: To explore the perspectives of general practitioners (GPs) on the identification and management of people, including those from ethnic minority groups, with Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF).

Methods: Qualitative study. Semi-structured, face-to-face or telephone interviews and focus groups were conducted with 35 GPs in England, which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Framework analysis was used to manage and interpret data.

Results: Themes presented reflect four inter-related challenges: GPs' 1) lack of understanding HFpEF, impacting on 2) difficulties in communicating the diagnosis, leading to 3) uncertainty in managing people with HFpEF, further hindered by (4) discontinuity across the primary/secondary interface. All were considered more challenging by GPs when managing people from different cultures and languages.

Discussion: HFpEF is not well understood by GPs, leading to diagnostic difficulty, management uncertainty and potential inequity in care offered. People with HFpEF are seen as complex, with multiple long-term conditions and requiring personalised care. Challenges in their management occur across the healthcare system. This study has identified learning needs for GPs around identification and on-going support for people with HFpEF in primary care. It will contribute to the development of more flexible and patient-centred pathways across the primary/secondary care interface.

Keywords: General practitioners; HFpEF; heart failure; primary care; qualitative methods.