Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Continuity of care in general practice: effect on patient satisfaction.

British Medical Journal 1992; 304 doi: (Published 16 May 1992) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1992;304:1287
  1. P. Hjortdahl,
  2. E. Laerum
  1. Department of General Practice, University of Oslo, Norway.


    OBJECTIVE--To evaluate the influence of continuity of care on patient satisfaction with consultations. DESIGN--Direct and episodic specific evaluation of patient satisfaction with recent consultation. SETTING AND SUBJECTS--A representative sample of 3918 Norwegian primary care patients were asked to evaluate their consultations by filling in a questionnaire. The response rate was 78%. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--The patient's overall satisfaction with the consultation was rated on a six point scale. Continuity of care was recorded as the duration and intensity of the present patient-doctor relationship and as patients' perception of the present doctor being their personal doctor or not. RESULTS--The multivariate analysis indicated that an overall personal patient-doctor relationship increased the odds of the patient being satisfied with the consultation sevenfold (95% confidence interval 4.9 to 9.9) as compared with consultations where no such relationships existed. The duration of the patient-doctor relationship had a weak but significant association with patient satisfaction, while the intensity of contacts showed no such association. CONCLUSION--Personal, continuous care is linked with patient satisfaction. If patient satisfaction is accepted as an integral part of quality health care, reinforcing personal care may be one way of increasing this quality.