Enventure Research was recently commissioned by the General Optical Council (GOC) to undertake research with its registrants and the general public exploring perceptions about the current process of assessing patients’ fitness to drive and their views about how public protection could be improved.
At present, it is the responsibility of the driver to inform the DVLA (DVA in Ireland) if they have been advised that they might be unfit to drive. Opticians must use their professional judgement about whether to inform the DVLA/DVA in cases where the patient cannot or will not; however notifying the DVLA/DVA without a patient’s consent raises issues around overriding confidentiality.
A mixed quantitative and qualitative approach to the research was taken. Enventure Research had previously carried out the GOC’s 2017 Public Perceptions Survey, which included questions about who respondents thought should be legally responsible for notifying the DVLA/DVA if a patient is unfit to drive, and whether this would discourage people from attending for an eyesight test. The Public Perceptions Survey was administered online to a representative sample of respondents based on gender and age within each UK nation and received over 3,000 responses.
A further online survey was developed and distributed via email to all fully qualified GOC registrants with a valid email address. The survey explored registrants’ views about the current process of assessing patients’ fitness to drive and whether changes need to be made to help further protect the public. A high response rate of 19% was achieved, representing almost 4,000 registrants. Following the survey, a series of four focus groups was held with registrants and the public to provide further insight into the findings.
The findings of this research, presented in a research report, can be found on the GOC website here.