QOF questionnaire may damage patient trust, study claims

The routine use of QOF depression questionnaires could damage the doctor-patient relationship, UK researchers have warned.

GPs are concerned that routine embedding of QOF depression questionnaires may encourage a ‘medicine by numbers’ approach, negatively affecting consultations, research shows.

The questionnaire, introduced in 2006, is used to assess the severity of depression in newly diagnosed patients.

In the study, researchers working on behalf of the QOF Depression Study Team carried out in-depth interviews with 34 GPs.

GPs were asked about their experiences of severity indicators and knowledge of their goals, the impact of the questionnaire on consultations, and whether they used the questionnaires at outset of treatment, as required by the QOF.

Lead author Geraldine Leydon from University of Southampton Primary Medical Care Department concluded: ‘Some GPs have voiced concern that the use of severity questionnaire scores may diminish patient-doctor rapport and holism.’

She added that some GPs were wary of using questionnaire scores to determine severity and decide on treatment.

The study also found that GPs were concerned about the need to defend their professional autonomy, which by definition involves independent and self-directing judgement.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said: ‘The questionnaire is valid, but as with any tool it should be used appropriately and proportionately.’

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