APH 2003, 61, 283-296:

Patients' expectations of General Practice.

J. De Lepeleire, M. Creemers, K. Van Tichelt, H. Van Loon

Keywords : General Practice, family medicine, organisation primary care

Introduction: A pilot study was set up to learn more about the use of an instrument to measure patients' expectations of general practice.

Method: People attending two GP practices in a rural area during a period of twelve weeks, were asked to complete a 42 item questionnaire, concerning practice characteristics. Also demographic elements were registered.

The average score and standard deviation for each item were calculated. The items' scores were ranked for both practices and for each practice separately. Multivariate statistics as analysis of variance and multiple regression analysis have been used.

Results: The demographic data for both practices were quite comparable. The ten most important expectations are the need for medical secret, the need for explanation, for time spent by the doctor, availability of medical records, a critical use of drugs, quick intervention in case of medical urgency, no contradictory information, explanation about the need for investigations and treatments, no waiting time and the need for continuing medical education (CME) of the GP. For six out of 42 items there was significant difference between practices, out of which four can be explained by differences in practice organisation.

Conclusions: The used questionnaire can be used and generates important information concerning patients' expectations. Set up by an independent institution, this method can be used to learn more about the expectations of patients on the population level.

The need to keep medical data secret is by far the most striking result of this study. Besides this, adequate communication skills and appropriate medical assistance in urgent situations are the most important expectations of patients. The comparison between two practices reveals six items with a different appreciation.