Continuity of care in the post partum period: general practitioner experiences with communication

Brodribb, Wendy E., Mitchell, Benjamin L. and van Driel, Mieke L. (2015) Continuity of care in the post partum period: general practitioner experiences with communication. Australian Health Review, 40 5: 484-489. doi:10.1071/AH15144

Author Brodribb, Wendy E.
Mitchell, Benjamin L.
van Driel, Mieke L.
Title Continuity of care in the post partum period: general practitioner experiences with communication
Journal name Australian Health Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0156-5788
Publication date 2015-12-18
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/AH15144
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 40
Issue 5
Start page 484
End page 489
Total pages 6
Place of publication Clayton, VIC, Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objectives. Informational and management continuity of care assists in providing a seamless transition for women and infants from tertiary or secondary to primary care during the post partum period. Few studies have evaluated the interaction between different aspects of the health system following a woman’s discharge from hospital after the birth of her infant. The present study describes how general practitioners (GPs) experience communications with hospitals and other post partum care providers relevant to continuity of care.

Methods. In the present cross-sectional study, a 52-item questionnaire adapted from a previously used survey was mailed to 932 GPs in southern Queensland, Australia, between February and July 2013. Questionnaire items included participant demographics, the timeliness and usability of discharge summaries, communication with other post partum care providers and consultation practices.

Results. The response rate was 17.4%. Nearly one-quarter of participants never or rarely received a hospital discharge summary in a timely manner and most considered the summaries somewhat useful. Few GPs (14.3%) had contact with or received information from domiciliary midwives who conducted post partum home visits. A higher proportion (38%) had some communication with a Child and Family Health nurse in the month before the survey.

Conclusions. Information flow from hospital to general practice and between other post partum care providers is less than ideal and may affect ongoing care for mothers and infants, especially those at risk. Knowledge exchange between healthcare services and initiatives to improve information sharing needs to be developed and implemented.

What is already known on this topic? Transitions from tertiary or secondary care to primary care and between primary care providers are often times of vulnerability for patients, including women and infants in the post partum period. There is little information documenting communications between different maternity services and GPs that facilitate ongoing care.

What does this paper add? There are significant gaps in the exchange of information about post partum women and infants from hospitals to GPs and a lack of communication between GPs and other post partum care providers, such as domiciliary midwives and Child and Family Health nurses.

What are the implications for practitioners? Improvements in the timeliness, presentation and content of hospital discharge summaries, as well as enhancing channels of communication, collaboration, cooperation and information sharing between providers of community post partum care, are necessary if mothers are to receive the best care possible.
Keyword General practice
Primary care
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online 18 December 2015

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Discipline of General Practice Publications
Official 2016 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 0 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article
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Created: Thu, 03 Mar 2016, 15:01:05 EST by Dr Wendy Brodribb on behalf of Discipline of General Practice