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Continuity of care: is the personal doctor still important? A survey of general practitioners and family physicians in England and Wales, the United States, and The Netherlands.
journal contributionposted on 2012-10-24, 09:00 authored by Tim Stokes, Carolyn Clare Tarrant, Arch G. Mainous, H Schers, George K. Freeman, Richard Baker
PURPOSE We determined the reported value general practitioners/family physicians in 3 different health care systems place on the various types of continuity of care. METHODS We conducted a postal questionnaire survey in England and Wales, the United States, and the Netherlands. The participants were 1,523 general practitioners/family physicians (568 from England and Wales, 453 from the United States and 502 from the Netherlands). Our main outcome measures were the perceived importance of the types of continuity of care and doctor or practice characteristics that may influence attitudes toward personal continuity of care. RESULTS The response rates were England and Wales 60% (568/946), United States 47% (453/963) and Netherlands 76% (502/660). The doctors in all 3 countries felt strongly that personal continuity remained an important aspect of good-quality care to their patients. Within a given health care system, doctors’ personal and practice characteristics explained only a small part of the variance in attitudes toward the provision of personal continuity of care (England and Wales and the Netherlands r2 = 0.04, United States r2 = 0.01). The doctors in all 3 countries felt that they were currently able to provide all 3 types of continuity of care, although doctors in England and Wales were least positive about the provision of informational and management continuity across the primary-secondary care divide. CONCLUSIONS General practitioners/family physicians from 3 differing health care systems all place high value on being able to provide personal continuity of care to patients. Personal continuity of care remains a core value of general practice/family medicine and should be taken account of by policy makers when redesigning health care systems.