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Shared medical appointments in English primary care for long-term conditions: a qualitative study of the views and experiences of patients, primary care staff and other stakeholders

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fiona GrahamORCiD, Helen Martin, Jan Lecouturier, Professor Amy O'DonnellORCiD, Dr Mei Yee TangORCiD, Dr Katherine Jackson, Professor Falko Sniehotta, Professor Eileen KanerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s).Background: Shared medical appointments (SMAs) or group consultations have been promoted in primary care to improve workload pressures, resource-use efficiency and patient self-management of long-term conditions (LTCs). However, few studies have explored stakeholders’ perspectives of this novel care delivery model in the English NHS context, particularly patients’ views and experiences of SMAs. Method: Semi-structured interviews were used to explore the perspectives of stakeholders (21 patients, 17 primary care staff, 2 commissioners and 2 SMA training providers) with and without SMA experience from a range of geographical and socio-economic backgrounds in the North East and North Cumbrian region of England. Thematic analysis was conducted to examine perceptions around impact on patient care and outcomes and barriers and facilitators to implementation. Results: Three main themes were identified: ‘Value of sharing’, ‘Appropriateness of group setting’, ‘Implementation processes’. Patients experiences and perceptions of SMAs were largely positive yet several reported reservations about sharing personal information, particularly in close-knit communities where the risk of breaching confidentiality was perceived to be greater. SMAs were considered by patients and staff to be inappropriate for certain personal conditions or for some patient groups. Staff reported difficulties engaging sufficient numbers of patients to make them viable and having the resources to plan and set them up in practice. Whilst patients and staff anticipated that SMAs could deliver high quality care more efficiently than 1:1 appointments, none of the practices had evaluated the impact SMAs had on patient health outcomes or staff time. Conclusion: Stakeholder experiences of SMA use in English primary care are largely similar to those reported in other countries. However, several important cultural barriers were identified in this setting. Further work is needed to better understand how patient and staff perceptions, experiences and engagement with SMAs change with regular use over time. Concerns regarding staff capacity, additional resource requirements and numbers of eligible patients per practice suggest SMAs may only be feasible in some smaller practices if facilitated by primary care networks. Further mixed-method evaluations of SMAs are needed to inform the evidence base regarding the effectiveness, efficiency and feasibility of SMAs long-term and subsequently their wider roll-out in English primary care.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham F, Martin H, Lecouturier J, O'Donnell A, Tang MY, Jackson K, Sniehotta FF, Kaner E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Primary Care

Year: 2022

Volume: 23

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 20/07/2022

Acceptance date: 04/07/2022

Date deposited: 01/08/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2731-4553

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12875-022-01790-z

PubMed id: 35858833


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