Patient satisfaction with out-of-hours GP cooperatives: a longitudinal study

Marleen Smits, Linda Huibers, Anita Oude Bos, Paul Giesen
Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care 2012, 30 (4): 206-13

OBJECTIVE: For over a decade, out-of-hours primary care in the Netherlands has been provided by general practitioner (GP) cooperatives. In the past years, quality improvements have been made and patients have become acquainted with the service. This may have increased patient satisfaction. The objective of this study was to examine changes in patient satisfaction with GP cooperatives over time.

DESIGN: Longitudinal observational study. A validated patient satisfaction questionnaire was distributed in 2003-2004 (T1) and 2007-2008 (T2). Items were rated on a scale from 0 to 10 (1 = very bad; 10 = excellent).

SETTING: Eight GP cooperatives in the Netherlands.

SUBJECTS: Stratified sample of 9600 patients. Response was 55% at T1 (n = 2634) and 51% at T2 (n = 2462).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Expectations met; satisfaction with triage nurses, GPs, and organization.

RESULTS: For most patients the care received at the GP cooperative met their expectations (T1: 86.1% and T2: 88.4%). Patients were satisfied with the triage nurses (overall grade T1: 7.73 and T2: 7.99), GPs (T1: 8.04 and T2: 8.25), and organization (overall grade T1: 7.60 and T2: 7.78). Satisfaction with triage nurses showed the largest increase over time. The quality and effectiveness of advice or treatment were given relatively low grades. Of all organizational aspects, the lowest grades were given for waiting times and information about the cooperative.

CONCLUSION: In general, patients were initially satisfied with GP cooperatives and satisfaction had even increased four years later. However, there is room for improvement in the content of the advice, waiting times, and information supply. More research is needed into satisfaction of specific patient groups.

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