General practitioners' adherence to work-up and referral recommendations in fertility care
SourceHuman Reproduction, 32, 6, (2017), pp. 1249-1257
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
SubjectRadboudumc 17: Women's cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
STUDY QUESTION: What is the current guideline adherence by general practitioners (GPs) for work-up and subsequent referral from primary to secondary care for patients suffering from infertility? SUMMARY ANSWER: Guideline adherence by GPs concerning infertility was 9.2% in couples referred. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Adherence to recommendations can decrease unnecessary referral, diagnostics and treatments, and consequently result in lower expenditures. Moreover, patients can be saved from unnecessary hospital visits, emotional burden and out of pocket costs. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, AND DURATION: A retrospective cohort study among 306 patients referred for basic fertility work-up between January 2011 and June 2013 from primary care to a secondary care teaching hospital or a tertiary hospital with IVF facilities. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING AND METHODS: Couples were eligible to participate when there was no previous referral for fertility problems and the duration of the child wish was <2 years. Data to assess guideline adherence were collected from the referral letter and the medical records. A patient questionnaire was used to determine patients' general and fertility-related characteristics. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: The GP performed a Chlamydia Antibody Titre (CAT) testing and semen analysis as recommended in 15.9% and 42.2% of the referred patients, respectively. According to the guideline, 39% of the couples were under referred (i.e. not immediately referred as recommended), 8.8% were unnecessarily referred and the CAT and semen analysis were unnecessarily repeated in secondary care in 80.0% and 57.1% of cases, respectively. LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTION: We could not include non-referred patients with expectant management in primary care, an unknown number of whom became pregnant in this period. This may have resulted in an underestimation of primary care performance. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Our findings show that guideline adherence concerning work-up and subsequent referral for fertility problems is low. The influence of patient demands for referral remains largely unknown. Barriers and facilitators for guideline adherence should be determined to develop interventions to improve guideline adherence in the areas of work-up and referral for fertility care and to diminish duplicate tests in secondary care. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): Funded by CZ, a Dutch healthcare insurer (grant number AFVV 11-232). CZ had no role in designing the study, data collection, analysis and interpretation of data or writing of the report. Competing interests: None. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: Not applicable.
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