The person-based development and realist evaluation of a summary report for GP consultations

Mairead Murphy*, Geoff Wong, Anne P Scott, Victoria J Wilson, Chris Salisbury

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Background: Use of telephone, video and e-consultations is increasing. These can make consultations more transactional. This study aimed to develop a complex intervention to address patients’ concerns more comprehensively in general practice and test the feasibility of this in a cluster-randomised framework.
The complex intervention used two technologies: a patient-completed pre-consultation form used at consultation opening and a doctor-provided summary report provided at consultation closure. This paper reports on the development and realist evaluation of the summary report.
Methods: A person-based approach was used to develop the summary report. An electronic protocol was designed to automatically generate the report after GPs complete a clinical template in the patient record. This was tested with 45 patients in 3 rounds each, with iterative adjustments made based on feedback after each round.
Subsequently, an intervention incorporating the pre-consultation form with the summary report was then tested in a cluster-randomised framework with 30 patients per practice in six practices: four randomised to intervention, and two to control. An embedded realist evaluation was carried out. The main feasibility study results are reported elsewhere.
Results: Intervention Development: 15 patients were recruited per practice. Eight patients and six GPs were interviewed and 18 changes made. The summary report improved substantially; GPs and patients in the final practice were more satisfied with the report than the first practice.
Realist evaluation: The summary was most useful for consultations when safety-netting advice was important or with multiple complex follow-up steps in patients who have difficulty remembering or communicating. It generated greater clarity on the follow-up and greater patient empowerment and reassurance.
Conclusions: The person-based approach was successful. The summary report creates clarity, empowerment and reassurance in certain consultations and patients. As it takes a few minutes per patient, GPs prefer to select patients who will benefit most.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
JournalNIHR Open Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2022


  • GP consultations
  • GP-patient communication
  • person-based approach
  • realist evaluation


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