Original Research

Comprehensive patient education and counselling for non-communicable diseases in primary care, Western Cape

Robert J. Mash, Joleen Cairncross
South African Family Practice | Vol 65, No 1 : Part 1| a5634 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v65i1.5634 | © 2023 Robert J. Mash, Joleen Cairncross | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 September 2022 | Published: 10 February 2023

About the author(s)

Robert J. Mash, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Joleen Cairncross, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCD) requires patient education and counselling (PEC). Initiatives have focused on Group Empowerment and Training (GREAT) for diabetes and Brief behaviour change counselling (BBCC). However, the implementation of comprehensive PEC in primary care remains a challenge. The aim of this study was to explore how such PEC could be implemented.

Methods: This was a descriptive, exploratory, qualitative study at the end of the first year of a participatory action research project to implement comprehensive PEC for NCDs at two primary care facilities in the Western Cape. Focus group interviews were held with healthcare workers and reports from co-operative inquiry group meetings were used as qualitative data.

Results: Staff were trained in GREAT for diabetes and BBCC. There were problems with training appropriate staff and sufficient numbers and a need for ongoing support. Implementation was limited by poor internal sharing of information, staff turnover and leave, rotation of staff, lack of space and fears of disrupting the efficiency of service delivery. Facilities had to embed the initiatives into appointment systems and fast track patients who attended GREAT. For those patients that were exposed to PEC, there were reported benefits.

Conclusion: Group empowerment was feasible to introduce, while BBCC was more challenging as it required extra time in the consultation.

Contribution: Implementation of PEC requires alternative approaches that do not extend consultations (such as GREAT and maybe digital solutions) as well as commitment to facility organisation for PEC from managers.

 


Keywords

noncommunicable diseases; diabetes; patient education; counselling; primary care; behaviour change

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