How have researchers defined and used the concept of 'continuity of care' for chronic conditions in the context of resource-constrained settings? A scoping review of existing literature and a proposed conceptual framework

Lana Meiqari, Tammam Al-Oudat, Dirk Essink, Fedde Scheele, Pamela Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Within the context of the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) globally, there is limited evidence on how researchers have explored the response to chronic health needs in the context of health policy and systems in low- and middle-income countries. Continuity of care (CoC) is one concept that represents several elements of a long-term model of care. This scoping review aims to map and describe the state of knowledge regarding how researchers in resource-constrained settings have defined and used the concept of CoC for chronic conditions in primary healthcare. Methods: This scoping review adopted the modified framework for interpretive scoping literature reviews. A systematic literature search in PubMed was performed, followed by a study selection process and data extraction, analysis and synthesis. Extracted data regarding the context of using CoC and the definition of CoC were analysed inductively to identify similar patterns; based on this, articles were divided into groups. MaxQDA was then used to re-code each article with themes according to the CoC definition to perform a cross-case synthesis under each identified group. Results: A total of 55 peer-reviewed articles, comprising reviews or commentaries and qualitative or quantitative studies, were included. The number of articles has increased over the years. Five groups were identified as those (1) reflecting a change across stages or systems of care, (2) mentioning continuity or lack of continuity without a detailed definition, (3) researching CoC in HIV/AIDS programmes and its scaling up to support management of NCDs, (4) researching CoC in NCD management, and (5) measuring CoC with validated questionnaires. Conclusion: Research or policy documents need to provide an explicit definition of CoC when this terminology is used. A framework for CoC is suggested, acknowledging three components for CoC (i.e. longitudinal care, the nature of the patient-provider relationship and coordinated care) while considering relevant contextual factors, particularly access and quality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

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