GPs' experiences with loneliness.
SourceAustralian Family Physician, 37, 11, (2008), pp. 973-6
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
Australian Family Physician
SubjectEBP 1: Determinants in Health and Disease; EBP 3: Effective Primary Care and Public Health; NCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health
BACKGROUND: Loneliness has a negative influence on health. General practitioners are confronted with lonely patients in their daily practice, but there is little information about how GPs deal with loneliness. METHODS: A qualitative study using semistructured interviews with 20 GPs who practise integrative medicine in the Netherlands. RESULTS: There are GPs who never ask patients about loneliness. Others mostly raise the topic indirectly. General practitioners sometimes notice that discussing loneliness brings relief to their patients. Almost all interviewed GPs have feelings of deficiency in their ability to provide health care to lonely patients. A feeling of powerlessness and perceived lack of time are the reasons given to avoid a discussion of loneliness. DISCUSSION: Loneliness is a widespread phenomenon and a difficult problem according to the GPs interviewed in this study. Discussing loneliness with patients should not be avoided in general practice.
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