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Patient-centred care delivered by general practitioners: a qualitative investigation of the experiences and perceptions of patients and providers


Background Patient-centred care (PCC) is care that is respectful and responsive to the wishes of patients. The body of literature on PCC delivered by general practitioners (GPs) has increased steadily over time. There is an opportunity to advance the work on GP-delivered PCC through qualitative research involving both patients and providers.

Aim To explore the perceptions and experiences of PCC by patient advocates and GPs.

Design and setting Qualitative description in a social constructivist paradigm. Participants were sampled from six primary care organisations in south east Queensland/northern New South Wales, Australia.

Method Purposive sampling was used to recruit English-speaking adult participants who were either practising GPs or patient advocates. Focus group sessions explored participants’ perceptions and experiences of PCC. Data were analysed thematically using a constant-comparative approach.

Results Three focus groups with 15 patient advocates and three focus groups with 12 practising GPs were conducted before thematic saturation was obtained. Five themes emerged: (1) understanding of PCC is varied and personal, (2) valuing humanistic care, (3) considering the system and collaborating in care, (4) optimising the general practice environment and (5) needing support for PCC that is embedded into training.

Conclusion Patient advocates’ and GPs’ understanding of PCC are diverse, which can hinder strategies to implement and sustain PCC improvements. Future research should explore novel interventions that expose GPs to unique feedback from patients, assess the patient-centeredness of the environment and promote GP self-reflection on PCC.

  • primary care
  • general practice
  • patient-centred care
  • qualitative research

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. All relevant data has been included as de-identified illustrative quotations in the manuscript.

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