Welfare advice in GP surgeries – what is the impact on GP’s workload and patients’ health and wellbeing

GPs are often faced with patients seeking help and advice on non-clinical issues such as debt, unemployment and housing. Though these issues undoubtedly impact patients’ health and wellbeing, health professionals are not always the best qualified people to tackle them.

We investigated the impact of putting welfare advice, and welfare advisers in GP surgeries on

  • the ability of low income groups to secure financial support they are entitled to
  • patients’ anxiety and stress associated with financial related social worries;
  • and, to GP time spent managing non-clinical issues

New CLAHRC BITEs offer a summary of two papers investigating the impact –

  1. A qualitative study to identify the processes by which co-located services can improve outcomes for GP practices

Key Findings

Co-location of welfare services has many benefits to patients including:

  1. Offering a signposting option for staff in contact with patients with ‘non-clinical’ social needs.
  2. Helping to address underlying patient social issues.
  3. Providing an alternative option for patients seeking help for such issues.
  4. Reducing bureaucratic pressures and time demands on practice staff.

Read the BITE

Co-located welfare advice in GP surgeries: part I

  2. A quantitative study, using a controlled comparison, assessing the impact on mental health and service use of co-located welfare advice.

Key Findings – service users receiving welfare advice versus control group

  • Had the advice service not been at the practice, nearly half of the advice group would not have sought help or consulted their GP instead.
  • The majority of advice recipients reported improved circumstances after advice (e.g., stress, income, housing etc.)

Compared to those who did not get advice, after 3 months:

  • Those in the advice group whose circumstances improved experienced a bigger improvement in their well-being.
  • Those in the advice group experienced a bigger reduction in financial strain, reduced credit card and overdraft use.
  • Those in the advice group experienced a bigger reduction in symptoms of common mental disorder, especially among recipients who were female, those who identified as Black and those who reported that their circumstances improved as a result of advice.
  • There was, however no evidence for a reduced frequency of GP consultations.
  • For every £1 of investment by funders, those receiving co-located advice gained £15 in entitlements on average

Read the BITE

Co-located welfare advice in GP surgeries: part II

 

Beyond searching- supporting NHS colleagues to contribute to systematic reviews

We recently collaborated with colleagues at Peninsula CLAHRC to deliver a successful ‘Beyond Searching’ course.

Members of the PenCLAHRC Evidence Synthesis Team (EST) travelled to London to work with CLAHRC North Thames’ Dr Antonio Rojas–Garcia in delivering the workshop to 19 librarians from the NHS and various universities.

Beyond Searching was devised 5 years ago by members of the EST who have been running annual workshops ever since. The course is designed to show health information professionals that they already have the skills to effectively contribute to systematic reviews –  reviews aiming to find as much as possible of the research relevant to the particular research question, and to identify what can reliably be said on the basis of these studies. The training gives them the confidence to get involved in the process and to advise others.

Librarians and other information professionals are highly skilled and motivated individuals with a drive to learn about new technologies and ways of working. They already have the skills needed to contribute to systematic reviews so our course is more about how they apply those skills. ‘It is always a joy to teach this workshop – often we learn a lot ourselves in the process – and it was particularly good this time to get the chance to collaborate with colleagues from CLAHRC North Thames.’

Morwenna Rogers (EST member)

This was the second year that the course followed a flipped classroom model, which EST members learned about during their visit to the University of Michigan two years ago. The model frees up classroom time for discussions and active learning, by making some of the foundation lectures and reading material available to participants in advance.

Attendees were asked to complete a series of online tasks prior to the course, which introduced them to key concepts of systematic reviewing and comprehensive searching. This enabled attendees to focus on more detailed aspects of search techniques during the workshop.

Guest speaker Claire Stansfield from the EPPI-Centre was also invited to discuss the use of automation (employing machines, computers, or robots to help researchers identify relevant papers), and its implication for reviews in the future.

The beyond searching team were delighted with the positive feedback they received. One attendee said that it was:

The best training [they] have ever attended

Another attendee planned to use the knowledge she had gained to change practice in her own place of work, and another thought that the flipped classroom model was excellent preparation for the face to face teaching day.

Dr Rojas – Garcia (below) praised the cross CLAHRC co-operation behind the delivery of this workshop, remarking:

It was great to spend the day collaborating with colleagues from PenCLAHRC. I considered it a very positive experience, it has been really encouraging to see how other colleagues teach about systematic reviews.’

To read more about the Beyond Searching workshop  collaboration, visit the EST blog.