Why does continuity of care with family doctors matter? Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To summarize and synthesize qualitative studies that report patient and physician perspectives on continuity of care in family practice. DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), and PsycInfo (Ovid) were searched for qualitative primary research reporting perspectives of patients, physicians, or both, on continuity of care in family practice. STUDY SELECTION: English-language qualitative studies were selected (eg, interviews, focus groups, mixed methods) that were conducted in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, New Zealand, or Australia. SYNTHESIS: Themes were extracted, summarized, and synthesized. Six overarching themes emerged: continuity of care enables person-centred care; continuity of care increases quality of care; continuity of care leads to greater confidence in medical decision making; continuity of care comes with drawbacks; the absence of continuity of care may lead to medical and psychological harm; and continuity of care can foster greater joy and meaning in a physician's work. Out of the 6 themes, patients and physicians shared the first 5. CONCLUSION: To the authors' knowledge, this is the first qualitative review reporting the unique perspectives of both patients and family physicians on continuity of care. The findings add nuanced insight to the importance of continuity of care in family practice.


  • Nowak, Dominik Alex
  • Sheikhan, Natasha Yasmin
  • Naidu, Sumana Christina
  • Kuluski, Kerry
  • Upshur, Ross

publication date

  • September 2021