Introduction: Training general practice registrars (GPRs) to meet the challenges of an ageing population is hampered by their relatively reduced contact with older patients and a paucity of suitable research to inform training models. This paper describes an exploratory factor analysis of a survey instrument assessing the attitudes of older patients to GPRs, as part of a project to address these concerns.
Methods: The instrument was developed on the basis of a qualitative study and a literature review and distributed to 500 patients aged 60 years and over from 10 training practices in regional Australia. Responses to 22 of the survey’s Likert scale items were examined, including inter-item correlations and internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha). Exploratory factor analysis was performed to identify domains of patients’ attitudes.
Results: The response rate was 39.2% (n=196). None of the items were redundant and the scale had appropriate levels of internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.76). The exploratory factor analysis identified three factors. Factor one, labelled ‘interpersonal trust’, explained 26.2% of the variance. Factor two accounted for 11.4% of the variance and was labelled ‘system trust’. Factor three, labelled ‘interpersonal continuity’, explained 7.5% of the variance.
Conclusion: The instrument demonstrated acceptable psychometric properties and three distinct factors reflecting older patients’ attitudes toward GPRs, with trust appearing to be particularly important. The instrument appears effective in obtaining valid data, which should assist in developing improved training models. These findings warrant confirmation with a larger sample and exploration of adaptations of the instrument to be used in other contexts.
Keywords: general practice registrar; post-graduate training; patient attitudes