Recent policy initiatives have focused on shifts in the balance of care from secondary care to primary care. A consequence of such shifts is increased workload in primary care. The aim of this paper is to appraise the literature critically to assess whether changes in the balance of care have led to additional work for general practices. In particular, the implications of this literature for the measurement of workload in general practice are highlighted. After an extensive, systematic literature search, only 12 studies that met the review criteria were identified. Although the studies pointed to negligible effects on the number of general practitioner (GP) visits, they failed to capture the many other attributes of a practice's work that are likely to be influenced by a shift in the balance of care. These include both qualitative (e.g. stress and mental effort) and quantitative (i.e. the use of resources in the practice, such as GPs, nurses and other staff's time and administration) measures of workload. The studies may therefore have under-estimated the effect on practice workload. To identify correctly the impact on workload of shifts in the balance of care, studies evaluating shifts need to improve their measurement of general practice workload. Furthermore, an extended definition of workload needs to be developed and tested, and workload monitored over time.
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||The British Journal of General Practice|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 1998|