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9 November 2012
In King’s Fund analysis, patients’ perception on ease of access to their general practice showed a strong link with quality indicators of services provided by the latter. Practices in deprived areas were also associated with a worse experience of their patients.1
In France, to our knowledge, there are no data assessing the relationship between the perceptions of patients and the areas in which they live. We conducted a study to assess the reliability between general practitioner shortages and the inhabitants’ perception of shortage. A random sample of 1,088 inhabitants of the Loire county were contacted by telephone between February 27 and March 3, 2012. Of the 1,053 respondents (97%), 388 inhabitants (37%) considered that they lived in a shortage area. There was no reliability between the inhabitants’ perception and the mapping of shortage areas (κ = 0.025, P=0.262). Univariate analysis found no association between perception and age or gender (P=0.484 and 0.689 respectively). No significant results were obtained by considering the perception of shortage within 5 years or one other statistical definition of shortage.
As the World Health Organization called for a strengthening of health policy research, those results highlight that answering population demand could differ from developing equitable health coverage.2
1. Kmietowicz Z. Better access to general practice is linked to improved quality of care, finds analysis. BMJ 2012;345:e7502.
2. Groves T. Development of health systems and universal coverage should be evidence based, says WHO. BMJ 2012;345:e7530.
Competing interests: None declared
General practice department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Saint-Etienne, 15 rue Ambroise Paré, 42023 Saint Etienne cedex 2, France
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