Do patients value continuity of care in general practice? An investigation using stated preference discrete choice experiments.
To estimate the relative importance to patients of continuity of care compared with other aspects of a primary care consultation.We carried out a discrete choice experiment in Leicestershire and London on a stratified random sample of 646 community dwelling adults taken from general practitioner (GP) registers, plus 20 interviews with Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati speakers. The attributes examined were: the type of professional consulted, relational continuity, informational continuity and access.Individuals' values changed according to their reason for making a primary care consultation. If consulting for minor familiar symptoms, individuals would be prepared to trade off one extra day's wait to see a GP rather than a nurse, 0.9 days for relational continuity, and 1.6 days for informational continuity. If consulting for a new condition they were uncertain about, they would be prepared to trade off an additional wait of 3.5 days to see a GP rather than a nurse, 2.4 days for relational continuity and 3.9 days for informational continuity. For a routine check-up, an individual would be prepared to trade off an additional wait of 3.5 days to see a GP rather than a nurse, 4.2 days for relational continuity and 7.8 days for informational continuity.Respondents stated their preference to wait longer to see a familar medical practitioner who was well informed about their case when they had a problem causing uncertainty or needed a routine check-up. They preferred quick access for likely minor 'low impact' symptoms. Appointment systems in general practice should be sufficiently flexible to meet these different preferences.
Turner, D; Tarrant, C; Windridge, K; Bryan, S; Boulton, M; Freeman, G; Baker, R
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