Barriers and enablers to good communication and information-sharing practices in care planning for chronic condition management
Lawn, Sharon Joy
Sweet, Linda Phyllis
Battersby, Malcolm Wayne
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Our aim was to document current communication and information-sharing practices and to identify the barriers and enablers to good practices within the context of care planning for chronic condition management. Further aims were to make recommendations about how changes to policy and practice can improve communication and information sharing in primary health care. A mixed-method approach was applied to seek the perspectives of patients and primary health-care workers across Australia. Data was collected via interviews, focus groups, non-participant observations and a national survey. Data analysis was performed using a mix of thematic, discourse and statistical approaches. Central barriers to effective communication and information sharing included fragmented communication, uncertainty around client and interagency consent, and the unacknowledged existence of overlapping care plans. To be most effective, communication and information sharing should be open, two-way and inclusive of all members of health-care teams. It must also only be undertaken with the appropriate participant consent, otherwise this has the potential to cause patients harm. Improvements in care planning as a communication and information-sharing tool may be achieved through practice initiatives that reflect the rhetoric of collaborative person-centred care, which is already supported through existing policy in Australia. General practitioners and other primary care providers should operationalise care planning, and the expectation of collaborative and effective communication of care that underpins it, within their practice with patients and all members of the care team. To assist in meeting these aims, we make several recommendations.