GP Practices as a One-Stop Shop: How Do Patients Perceive the Quality of Care? A Cross-Sectional Study in Thirty-Four Countries

Willemijn L.A. Schäfer*, Wienke G.W. Boerma, François G. Schellevis, Peter P. Groenewegen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To contribute to the current knowledge on how a broad range of services offered by general practitioners (GPs) may contribute to the patient perceived quality and, hence, the potential benefits of primary care. Study Setting: Between 2011 and 2013, primary care data were collected among GPs and their patients in 31 European countries, plus Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. In these countries, GPs are the main providers of primary care, mostly specialized in family medicine and working in the ambulatory setting. Study Design: In this cross-sectional study, questionnaires were completed by 7,183 GPs and 61,931 visiting patients. Moreover, 7,270 patients answered questions about what they find important (their values). In the analyses of patient experiences, we adjusted for patients' values in each country to measure patient perceived quality. Perceived quality was measured regarding five areas: accessibility and continuity of care, doctor-patient communication, patient involvement in decision making, and comprehensiveness of care. The range of GP services was measured in relation to four areas: (1) to what extent they are the first contact to the health care system for patients in need of care, (2) their involvement in treatment and follow-up of acute and chronic conditions, in other words treatment of diseases, (3) their involvement in minor technical procedures, and (4) their involvement in preventive treatments. Extraction Methods: Data of the patients were linked to the data of the GPs. Multilevel modeling was used to construct scale scores for the experiences of patients in the five areas of quality and the range of services of GPs. In these four-level models, items were nested within patients, nested in GP practices, nested in countries. The relationship between the range of services and the experiences of patients was analyzed in three-level multilevel models, also taking into account the values of patients. Principal Findings: In countries where GPs offer a broader range of services patients perceive better accessibility, continuity, and comprehensiveness of care, and more involvement in decision making. No associations were found between the range of services and the patient perceived communication with their GP. The range of GP services mostly explained the variation between countries in the areas of patient perceived accessibility and continuity of care. Conclusions: This study showed that in countries where GP practices serve as a "one-stop shop," patients perceive better quality of care, especially in the areas of accessibility and continuity of care. Therefore, primary care in a country is expected to benefit from investments in a broader range of services of GPs or other primary care physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2047-2063
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Services Research
Volume53
Issue number4
Early online date2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

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