Patient Satisfaction With Care for Urgent Health Problems: A Survey of Family Practice Patients
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PURPOSE: Patient satisfaction is an important health care outcome. This study compared patients' satisfaction with care received for an urgent health problem from their family physician, at an after-hours clinic in which their physician participated, at a walk-in clinic, at the emergency department, from telephone health advisory services, or from more than 1 of those services. METHODS: We mailed a questionnaire to a random sample of patients from 36 family practices in Thunder Bay, Ontario. We elicited satisfaction with care for the most recent urgent health problem in the past 6 months on a 7-point scale (very dissatisfied to very satisfied). RESULTS: The response rate was 62.3% (5,884 of 9,397). Of the 5,722 eligible patients 1,342 (23.4%) reported an urgent health problem, and data were available for both services used and satisfaction for 1,227 patients. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported health status, satisfaction with care received for most recent urgent health problem was significantly higher among patients who visited or spoke to their family physician (mean 6.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.8-6.4) compared with all other services (all P <.004, adjusted for multiple comparisons), with the exception of patients who used the after-hours clinic affiliated with their physician, whose satisfaction was not significantly different (mean 5.6; 95% CI, 5.2-6.0). CONCLUSIONS: Satisfaction was highest for patients receiving care from their own family physician or their physician's after-hours clinic. These results are important for new primary care models that emphasize continuity and after-hours availability of family physicians.
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