Patients to benefit from new general practice trial

Flinders University will conduct a clinical trial that aims to improve the health of patients and the care they receive from their General Practitioner.

Patients who are part of the 18-month trial will have longer appointment times, closer follow-up after a hospitalisation and improved access to their general practice clinical team.

Flinders has been chosen by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to conduct the trial of enhanced general practice services for patients at high risk of poor health outcomes.

The trial has been named Flinders – Quest (QUality Enhanced general practice Services Trial).

The multidisciplinary team at Flinders is led by Professor Richard Reed, Head of the Discipline of General Practice.

The team comprises Associate Professor Billingsley Kaambwa, Health Economics, Flinders University; Associate Professor Steve Allison, Psychiatry, Flinders University; and Professor Richard Osborne, Health Systems Improvement, Deakin University.

The trial will be managed by Dr Leigh Roeger, Senior Research Fellow, Discipline of General Practice, Flinders University.

The Flinders Quest trial will include 20 South Australian general practices from the Flinders General Practice Teaching and Research Network, which are located in the Adelaide metropolitan area and regionally. Practices will be randomly allocated to an Intervention or Control group.

The primary outcomes for the trial will be patient health status (measured by the widely-used EuroQoL 5 dimension (EQ-5D) scale) and health service use including potentially preventable hospitalisations.

The EQ-5D is a short patient self-report questionnaire which takes a holistic view of health including the medical definition as well as the fundamental importance of independent physical, emotional and social functioning.

“An important secondary outcome for the trial will be the patient experience of intervention,” Professor Richard Reed says.

“As researchers, we hypothesise that the intervention will be associated with patients feeling better understood and supported by healthcare providers, and having more understanding of the health information provided to them.”

The results from this pragmatic trial will have important implications for policy-makers and healthcare planners with respect to the manner in which Australian general practice services are provided and funded.

Approximately 1,100 patients from three cohorts (older patients > 65 years of age; patients with two or more chronic health conditions; and children and adolescents) will be recruited to Flinders Quest.

Patients will be assessed by their general practitioner prior to participating in the trial.

The significant funding provided for Flinders Quest through the RACGP and the Australian Department of Health will enable the research to be conducted to the highest possible clinical trial methodological standards.


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