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 on August 01, 2012

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

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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.

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