Family Medicine Publications

Patients' perceptions of access to primary care: Analysis of the QUALICOPC Patient Experiences Survey

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Canadian Family Physician





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Objective To gain a more comprehensive understanding of patients' perceptions of access to their primary care practice and how these relate to patient characteristics. Design Cross-sectional study. Setting Ontario. Participants Adult primary care patients in Ontario (N = 1698) completing the Quality and Costs of Primary Care (QUALICOPC) Patient Experiences Survey. Main outcome measures Responses to 11 access-related survey items, analyzed both individually and as a Composite Access Score (CAS). Results The mean (SD) CAS was 1.78 (0.16) (the highest possible CAS was 2 and the lowest was 1). Most patients (68%) waited more than 1 day for their appointment. By far most (96%) stated that it was easy to obtain their appointment and that they obtained that appointment as soon as they wanted to (87%). There were no statistically significant relationships between CAS and sex, language fluency, income, education, frequency of emergency department use, or chronic disease status. A higher CAS was associated with being older and being born in Canada, better self-reported health, and increased frequency of visits to a doctor. Conclusion Despite criticisms of access to primary care, this study found that Ontario patients belonging to primary care practices have favourable impressions of their access. There were few statistically significant relationships between patient characteristics and access, and these relationships appeared to be weak.

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