Australian general Practitioners' perspectives on their role in well-child health care.
Background In a General Practitioner (GP) setting, preventative medicine is reported as the predominant source of health care for the well-child. However, the role of the GP in well-child health care is not well understood in Australia. The aim of this study was to describe the role of the GP in providing services for well-children and families in Australia. Methods This was a qualitative descriptive study. Face-to-face interviews were held with 23 GPs to identify their role in the provision of well-child health care. Participants worked in a variety of general practice settings and 21 of the 23 GPs worked in the Greater Western Sydney area. Results Five main themes were identified in the analysis: ‘prevention is better than cure’, ‘health promotion: the key messages’, ‘working with families’, ‘working with other health professionals’, and ‘barriers to the delivery of well-child health services’. Conclusions Participating GPs had a predominantly preventative focus, but in the main well-child care was opportunistic rather than proactive. The capacity to take a primary preventative approach to the health of children and families by GPs is limited by the increasing demands to manage chronic disease. Serious consideration should be given to developing collaborative models of care where GPs are joined up with services funded by State and Territory governments in Australia, such as the universal maternal child and family health nursing services that have well children and families as their prime focus.