Patient and general practitioner views of tools to delay diagnostic imaging for low back pain: a qualitative study

Adrian C Traeger, Juliet Checketts, Elise Tcharkhedian, Denise A O'Connor, Christiane Klinner, Sweekriti Sharma, Parima Vyas, Loai Albarqouni, Kirsten McCaffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Delayed prescribing is a promising strategy to manage patient requests for unnecessary tests and treatments. The purpose of this study was to explore general practitioner (GP) and patient views of three communication tools (Overdiagnosis Leaflet, Dialogue Sheet and 'Wait-and-see' Note) to support delayed prescribing of diagnostic imaging.

DESIGN: Qualitative study.

SETTING: Primary and emergency care in Sydney, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: 16 GPs and 14 patients with recent episode of low back pain.

OUTCOME: Views on the tools to delay diagnostic imaging for low back pain. Data were collected using a combination of focus groups and individual interviews.

ANALYSIS: Two researchers independently performed a thematic analysis, and the author team reviewed and refined the analysis.

RESULTS: GP participants responded positively to the Overdiagnosis Leaflet. The Dialogue Sheet and 'Wait-and-see' Note raised several concerns about patient pushback, adding to time pressure and being overwhelmed with hard-to-find paper resources. GPs preferred to communicate verbally the reasons to delay an imaging test. For patients, the reactions to the tools were more positive. Patients valued written information and a signed agreement to delay the test. However, patients expressed that a strong desire for diagnostic imaging would likely over-ride any effect of written advice to delay the test. The term 'false alarm' to describe overdiagnosis was poorly understood by patients.

CONCLUSIONS: GPs and patients agreed that a leaflet about overdiagnosis could support a delayed prescribing approach to imaging for low back pain. The Dialogue Sheet and 'Wait-and-see' Note were acceptable to patients but not to GPs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere039936
Number of pages15
JournalBMJ Open
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2020

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