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01.01.2017 | original article | Ausgabe 1-2/2017 Open Access

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 1-2/2017

No common understanding of profession terms utilized in health services research

An add-on qualitative study in the context of the QUALICOPC project in Austria

Zeitschrift:
Wiener klinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 1-2/2017
Autoren:
MPH Assoc. Prof. Dr. med. univ. Kathryn Hoffmann, Silvia Wojczewski, Diederik Aarendonk, Manfred Maier, Thomas Ernst Dorner, Jan de Maeseneer
Wichtige Hinweise
Authors’ contributions K. Hoffmann: made substantial contributions to conception, design, analysis, and interpretation of data. She drafted and revised the manuscript, gave the final approval of the version to be published, and is the corresponding author; S. Wojczewski: made contributions to the design, analysis and interpretation of the data, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content, and gave the final approval of the version to be published; D. Aarendonk: made contributions to the interpretation of the data, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content and gave the final approval of the version to be published; M. Maier: made contributions to the interpretation of the data, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content, and gave the final approval of the version to be published. T. E. Dorner: made contributions to the interpretation of the data, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content, and gave the final approval of the version to be published; J. de Maeseneer: made contributions to the design and interpretation of the data, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content, and gave the final approval of the version to be published.

Summary

Background

Health services research, especially in primary care, is challenging because the systems differ widely between countries. This study aimed to explore the different understanding of the terminology used, particularly, regarding the professions nursing and medical secretaries.

Methods

The study was an add-on study to the Quality and Costs in Primary Care (QUALICOPC) project in Austria and designed as qualitative research. The qualitative phase was conducted by using semi-structured telephone interviews with general practitioners (GP). and17 GPs participated in the study.

Results

No uniform meaning of the terms commonly utilized for the abovementioned health professions could be found among Austrian GPs. For example, under the profession term practice assistants, nurses as well as literal medical secretaries with and without special education and related work competencies and responsibilities were subsumed.

Conclusions

Our study results show that no uniform meaning of the terms commonly utilized for above described health profession could be found even within one country by GPs. These findings are highly relevant, especially, when trying to compare results with similar data from other countries or negotiating about workforce issues. Our findings implicate several action points for health services research and health policy. We propose the development of a harmonized terminology in Europe for the health profession based on standards of undergraduate and postgraduate education, competencies and continuous education commitments. This would not only benefit comparative health system research but also patient safety across Europe.
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