Cover: Do English Patients Want Continuity of Care, and Do They Receive It?

Do English Patients Want Continuity of Care, and Do They Receive It?

Published in: British Journal of General Practice, v. 62, no. 601, Aug. 2012, p. e567-e575

Posted on Aug 1, 2012

by Ahmed Aboulghate, Gary A. Abel, Marc N. Elliott, Richard A. Parker, John Campbell, Georgios Lyratzopoulos, Martin Roland

BACKGROUND: Interpersonal continuity of care is valued by patients, but there is concern that it has declined in recent years. AIM: To determine how often patients express preference for seeing a particular GP and the extent to which that preference is met. DESIGN OF STUDY: Analysis of data from the 2009/2010 English GP Patient Survey. SETTING: A stratified random sample of adult patients registered with 8362 general practices in England (response rate 39%, yielding 2 169 718 responses). METHOD: Weighted estimates were calculated of preference for and success in seeing a particular GP. Multilevel logistic regression was used to identify characteristics associated with these two outcomes. RESULTS: Excluding practices with one GP, 62% of patients expressed a preference for seeing a particular GP. Of these patients, 72% were successful in seeing their preferred GP most of the time. Certain patient groups were associated with more preference for and success in seeing a particular GP. These were older patients (preference odds ratio [OR] = 1.7, success OR = 1.8), those with chronic medical conditions (preference OR = 1.9, success OR = 1.3), those with chronic psychological conditions (preference OR = 1.6, success OR = 1.3), and those recently requesting only non-urgent versus urgent appointments (preference OR = 1.4, success OR = 1.6). Patient groups that had more frequent preference but less success in seeing a preferred GP were females (preference OR = 1.5, success OR = 0.9), patients in larger practices (preference OR = 1.3, success OR = 0.5), and those belonging to non-white ethnic groups. CONCLUSION: The majority of patients value interpersonal continuity, yet a large minority of patients and specific patient groups are not regularly able to see the GP they prefer.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.