Nasal balloon autoinflation for glue ear in primary care: a qualitative interview study
Jane Vennik, Ian Williamson, Caroline Eyles, Hazel Everitt and Michael Moore
Background: Nasal balloon autoinflation is an effective, non-surgical treatment for symptomatic children with glue ear, although uptake is variable and evidence about acceptability and feasibility is limited. Aim: To explore parent and healthcare professional views and experiences of nasal balloon autoinflation for children with glue ear in primary care. Design and setting: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with a maximum-variety sample of parents, GPs, and practice nurses. The study took place between February 2013 and September 2014. Method: Semi-structured face-to-face and telephone interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: In all, 14 parents, 31 GPs, and 19 nurses were included in the study. Parents described the nasal balloon as a natural, holistic treatment that was both acceptable and appealing to children. GPs and nurses perceived the method to be a low-cost, low-risk strategy, applicable to the primary care setting. Good instruction and demonstration ensured children mastered the technique and engaged with the treatment, but uncertainties were raised about training provision and potential impact on the GP consultation. Making nasal balloon autoinflation part of a child’s daily routine enhances compliance, but difficulties can arise if children are unwell or refuse to cooperate. Conclusion: Nasal balloon autoinflation is an acceptable, low-cost treatment option for children with glue ear in primary care. Provision of educational materials and demonstration of the method are likely to promote uptake and compliance. Wider use of the nasal balloon has the potential to enhance early management, and may help to fill the management gap arising from forthcoming changes to care pathways.