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Patient satisfaction with out of hours primary medical care
  1. R K McKinley, senior lecturer in general practice 1,
  2. C Roberts, senior research fellow 2
  1. 1Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Gwendolen Road, Leicester LE5 4PW, UK
  2. 2National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK
  1. Dr R K McKinley rkm{at}


Objectives—To describe the relationship between patient satisfaction with out of hours care provided by deputising and practice doctors in four urban areas in England and characteristics of the service provided and patients, the care given, and health outcomes.

Setting—Fourteen general practices in four urban areas in England.

Participants—People who requested out of hours care.

Design—Analysis of data from a study of out of hours care. Patients were interviewed within 5 days of their request for out of hours care. Data on the service provided were obtained from medical records and all other data were collected at interview. Satisfaction was measured using a valid reliable instrument.

Results—2152 patients were recruited to the study and 1466 were interviewed. Satisfaction data were available on 1402 patients. “Overall satisfaction” was associated with age, doctor type, lack of access to a car at the time of the request, and health outcome. The relationships between satisfaction subscales and patient characteristics (age, sex, ethnicity, and access to a car at the time of the request), service characteristics (doctor type and delay between the request and visit), whether a prescription was given, and health outcome were variable. If an expected home visit was not received, “overall satisfaction” and satisfaction with “communication and management”, “doctor's attitude”, and “initial contact person” were reduced.

Conclusion—Patient satisfaction is dependent on many factors. Mismatch between patient expectation and the service received is related to decreased satisfaction. This may increase as general practitioners delegate more out of hours care to cooperatives and deputising services.

  • patient satisfaction
  • out of hours care
  • general practice

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