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Co-production of an intervention to introduce physician associates to hospital patients

Physician associates are a relatively new innovation in the NHS workforce, being introduced into medical and surgical teams in many hospital trusts in South London. They are postgraduate, medically trained professionals who work supervised by a doctor, providing medical care as part of the healthcare team.

Existing research studies led by Professor Vari Drennan have shown that there is low awareness and understanding about the role of physician associates among hospital patients in England, even where efforts have been made by both them and hospital consultants to introduce them. Many patients mistakenly view physician associates as doctors. Patient representatives involved in the research, including from the Patient Research Expert Group in the Centre for Public Engagement in the joint faculty of Kingston University and St George’s, felt it was very important that patients knew what type of professional was attending them. Solutions, however, are less clear and there is a lack of evidence about how hospital patients want to learn about the new role.

To address these issues, Professor Vari Drennan and Research Associate Francesca Taylor from the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education – a joint faculty of Kingston University and St George’s, University of London – together with patient and public representatives from the Patient Research Expert Group, Lead Physician Associate Jonathan Ogidi and three physician associates from St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, carried out a research study in two stages.

In the first stage, the team conducted interviews with hospital patients who had been attend by a physician associate participating in the study, to find out how the patients wanted to learn about the new physician associate role. For the second stage, the team tried out an intervention based on the preferences of hospital patients for introducing physician associates, to assess how the intervention was received and accepted by patients. They conducted interviews with physician associates who had used the intervention, as well as interviewing hospital patients they had attended.

The team are now analysing these interviews and will report the study findings later in the summer.

If you would like to find out more about the study, contact Francesca Taylor


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