Background Primary care in remote communities in northern Canada is delivered primarily by nurses who receive clinical support from physicians in regional centres and the patient transportation system. To improve continuity, quality and access to care in remote northern communities, it is important to understand the perspectives of front-line providers and the complex challenges they face. Objective To design and implement a survey of primary care providers to identify issues relating to inter-professional communication, clinical support and patient evacuation. Methods In collaboration with the territorial government and regional health authority partners, we developed a 21-item self-administered questionnaire survey, which could be completed online. The survey was sent to 218 physicians and nurses who were employed in the Northwest Territories (NWT) at the time of the survey and were involved in sending patients out of the community and/or receiving patients. The survey also contained an open-ended question at the end seeking comments regarding primary health care. Results The overall low response rate of 39% among nurses and 19% among physicians threatens the validity of the quantitative results. The majority of providers were satisfied with their ability to communicate with other providers in a timely manner, their freedom to make clinical decisions and their overall experience practicing in the NWT. The patient transfer system appears to work from both the sender and receiver perspectives. However, a common theme reported by nurses was that physicians providing clinical advice, especially short-term locums, were not familiar with the local situation, whilst physicians at the receiving end remarked that the clinical information provided to them often lacked clarity. Conclusions Important lessons were learnt from the pilot study, especially in better engagement of providers in planning and dissemination. The questionnaire design and the online method of delivery were acceptable. Although important issues were identified, a larger definitive survey is needed to investigate them in the future.
Young, S. K., & Young, T. K. (2016). Assessing clinical support and inter-professional interactions among front-line primary care providers in remote communities in northern Canada: A pilot study. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 75. https://doi.org/10.3402/ijch.v75.32159