A qualitative study of the barriers and enablers to fertility-awareness education in general practice

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Abstract

Aims

To understand the barriers and enablers to fertility-awareness education in general practice.

Background

Most women along with their primary care practitioners – general practitioners and practice nurses – believe that women should be educated about fertility-awareness when first reporting trouble conceiving. To date, no in-depth study has examined the enablers and challenges of this type of education in general practice.

Design

A descriptive exploratory qualitative study using deductive content analysis.

Methods

General practitioners (N = 11) and practice nurses (N = 20) were recruited from general practices in three socioculturally diverse areas in Victoria, Australia. Data were collected through semistructured interviews based on the 12 domains of a theoretical behaviour change framework from April–August 2012. The participants' responses were organized into themes that fall under the framework domains.

Findings

The biggest barriers to fertility-awareness education in general practice were short consultations and time constraints faced by general practitioners together with a lack of patient educational materials and remuneration to support its delivery. The biggest enablers were a greater use of nurses trained in fertility-awareness in a collaborative team care arrangement with general practitioners.

Conclusion

This study has identified several important barriers and enablers to fertility-awareness education in general practice. Translation into practice of our findings is imperative as the first step in establishing a primary care model in fertility-awareness. This would fill an important gap in the primary care of infertile women and build capacity in general practice to reduce infertility through women's enhanced fertility knowledge.

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