BACKGROUND: Underdiagnosis and undertreatment of chronic heart failure (CHF) are common in older patients, who are usually treated by general practitioners (GPs). In 2007, the French ICAGE study explored GPs' attitudes to the management of this condition in older patients.
OBJECTIVES: To explore changes over time in GPs' attitudes towards the management of CHF in patients aged ≥75 and to identify barriers to optimal management.
METHODS: In 2015, we performed a qualitative study of 20 French GPs via semi-structured interviews and a thematic content analysis. The results were compared with the findings of a 2007 study.
RESULTS: In 2015, the perceived barriers to diagnosis were the same as in 2007. Echocardiography was still the preferred diagnostic method but the GPs relied on the cardiologist to confirm the diagnosis. Many GPs were still unaware of the different types of CHF. In contrast, they reported greater knowledge of decompensation factors and the ultrasound criteria for CHF. They also prescribed a brain natriuretic peptide assay more frequently. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and beta blockers were more strongly perceived to be core treatments. Few GPs initiated drug treatments and optimized dosages. Although patient education was never mentioned, the importance of multidisciplinary care was emphasized.
CONCLUSION: Our results evidenced a small recent improvement in the management of older patients with CHF. Appropriate guidelines and training for GPs, patient education and multidisciplinary collaboration might further improve the care given to this population.