Written survey on recently deceased patients in Germany and Switzerland: how do general practitioners see their role?

Schnakenberg, Rieke; Goeldlin, Adrian; Boehm-Stiel, Christina; Bleckwenn, Markus; Weckbecker, Klaus; Radbruch, Lukas (2016). Written survey on recently deceased patients in Germany and Switzerland: how do general practitioners see their role? BMC health services research, 16, p. 22. BioMed Central 10.1186/s12913-016-1257-1

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BACKGROUND General practitioners (GPs) play an important role in end-of-life care due to their proximity to the patient's dwelling-place and their contact to relatives and other care providers. METHODS In order to get a better understanding of the role which the GP sees him- or herself as playing in end-of-life care and which care their dying patients get, we conducted this written survey. It asked questions about the most recently deceased patient of each physician. The questionnaire was sent to 1,201 GPs in southern North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and the Canton of Bern (Switzerland). RESULTS Response rate was 27.5 % (n = 330). The average age of responding physicians was 54.5 years (range: 34-76; standard derivation: 7.4), 68 % of them were male and 45 % worked alone in their practice. Primary outcome measures of this observational study are the characteristics of recently deceased patients as well as their care and the involvement of other professional caregivers. Almost half of the most recently deceased patients had cancer. Only 3 to 16 % of all deceased suffered from severe levels of pain, nausea, dyspnea or emesis. More than 80 % of the doctors considered themselves to be an indispensable part of their patient's end-of-life care. Almost 90 % of the doctors were in contact with the patient's family and 50 % with the responsible nursing service. The majority of the GPs had taken over the coordination of care and cooperation with other attending physicians. CONCLUSION The study confirms the relevance of caring for dying patients in GPs work and provides an important insight into their perception of their own role.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute of General Practice and Primary Care (BIHAM)

UniBE Contributor:

Göldlin, Adrian


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




BioMed Central




Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

21 Jan 2016 14:58

Last Modified:

22 Jun 2017 13:00

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Additional Information:

Schnakenberg and Goeldlin contributed equally to this work.





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