Primary Care Research

The Way Forward Survey: General/Family Practitioners and Nurses in Primary Care 

The Way Forward, under the direction of CHPCA/QELCCC commissioned Ipsos Reid to conduct a research program with the main objective of exploring and defining how family/general physicians, nurses and other health professionals currently handle approaching palliative care with their patients. 

Full Report - click here

Key Messages - click here

Infographic (general/family practitioners) - click here

Infographic (public opinon survey of Canadians and primary care) - click here


**Please use appropriate citation when referencing data and charts of The Way Forward/Ipsos Reid Survey: 

Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, The Way Forward Survey: General/Family Practitioners and Nurses in Primary Care, for The Way Forward initiative, Ipsos Reid: 2014.

The Way Forward Survey: General/Family Practitioners and Nurses in Primary Care”, is a survey that included both qualitative and quantitative phases. Focus groups and ideation sessions took place in three urban centres (Calgary, Toronto, Montreal) and three rural regions (east, north, west). The online survey portion was completed for the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association using Ipsos Reid’s healthcare partner provider panel. The online survey of 286 general practitioners/family physicians and 200 nurses in primary care across Canada was conducted between April 24 and May 12, 2014. Overall data has been weighted to reflect true region distribution.


Initial qualitative research included:

  • Focus groups (2) in three urban centres (Calgary, Toronto, Montreal)
  • Ideation sessions (3) in rural regions (rural east, rural north, and rural west)

The first quantitative phase research involved a survey among general practitioners/family physicians in Canada, as well as nurses/nurse practitioners in Canada working in primary care. 

The main objectives of the quantitative phases were to:

  • Quantitatively validate, and build upon, the insights gathered from the qualitative phase;
  • Probe how physicians and nurses handle patients who may be considered palliative; and,
  • Identify potential barriers to discussing palliative care earlier in the illness trajectory.

 Key Messages:

  1. Family doctors and nurses in primary care strongly believe in the benefits of a palliative approach to patients and families, and to the health system.
  2. Most family physicians and nurses are only somewhat comfortable providing palliative care. 
  3. Most family physicians and nurses say they have initiated a discussion about palliative care, and they would also like online toolkits to support Advance Care Planning conversations.
  4. Family physicians and nurses are interested in accredited education sessions on pain and symptom management, and receiving help from palliative care nurses.  GP/FPs also want access to a palliative care physician for telephone advice to help them manage care for their patients.