Optimising personal continuity: a survey of general practitioners' and older patients' views

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BACKGROUND: Personal continuity - having a GP who knows his or her patients and keeps track of them -is an important dimension of continuity of care andis associated with lower mortality rates, higher quality of life and reduced healthcare costs. In the last decades, it has become more challenging for general practitioners (GPs) to provide personal continuity due to changes in society and healthcare.

AIM: To investigate GPs' and older patients' views on personal continuity andhow personal continuity can be improved.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional survey study in the Netherlands METHOD: A digital and postal survey was send to 499 GPs and 1599 patients aged 65 or aboveResults were analysed using descriptive statistics for quantitative data and thematic analysis for open questions.

RESULTS: 249 GPs and 582 patients completed the surveys. A large majority of GPs (92-99%) and patients(91-98%) felt it was important for patients to see their own GP for life events or psychosocial issues.GPs and patients provided suggestions on how personal continuity can be improved.The thematic analysis of these suggestions identified nine themes1: personal connection,2 GP accessibility and availability,3 communication about (dis)continuity,4 GP responsibility,5 triage,6 time for the patient,7 actions by third parties,8 team continuity and9 GP vocational training.

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: Both GPs andolder patients still place high value on personal continuity in the context of a changing society. GPs and patients provided a wide range of suggestions for improving personal continuity. We will use these suggestions to develop interventionsfor optimising personal continuity in general practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBJGP Open
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2023

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