Is Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network guidance for GP management of tonsillitis suitable? A qualitative study

Lorraine McSweeney, Janet A. Wilson, Scott Wilkes, Katie Haighton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background - The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network developed guidelines for the management of sore throat and indications for tonsillectomy in 1999 to address concerns of unnecessary surgery. Emergency admissions to hospital for tonsillitis have since increased. Adults experience an average of 27 episodes of tonsillitis before undergoing tonsillectomy. We wished to explore the appropriateness of the guidance and/or its implementation in primary care

Aim - To explore the attitudes of GPs to the referral criteria they use when managing adults presenting with acute tonsillitis.

Design - Secondary analysis of qualitative data from the NAtional Trial of Tonsillectomy in Adults (NATTINA) feasibility and process evaluation.

Participants and setting - Twenty-one GPs from practices throughout the UK.

Method - In-depth interviews GPs concerning both the feasibility and process evaluation phases of NATTINA. Analysis was conducted using the Framework method.

Results - General practitioners felt it was rarely necessary to refer patients. They were aware of guidelines and would refer if requested by a patient who fulfilled the guidelines criteria and/or who were missing considerable amounts of work.

Conclusion - The introduction of the guidelines appears to coincide with what some may have hoped to be a desired effect of reducing adult sore throat referrals and subsequent tonsillectomies by increasing the number of episodes a patient must suffer before the referral threshold is met. GPs may find equipoise for tonsillectomy referral challenging as many patients, express a strong preference for surgery. We believe this paper reinforces GP professionalism, patient-centred consultations and challenges the role of clinical guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-637
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number5
Early online date24 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


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