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Qual Health Care. Jun 2001; 10(2): 90–95.
PMCID: PMC1757978

Age, gender, socioeconomic, and ethnic differences in patients' assessments of primary health care


Background—Patients' evaluations are an important means of measuring aspects of primary care quality such as communication and interpersonal care. This study aims to examine variations in assessments of primary care according to age, gender, socioeconomic, and ethnicity variables.

Methods—A cross sectional survey of consecutive patients attending 55 inner London practices was performed over a 2 week period using the General Practice Assessment Survey (GPAS) instrument which assesses 13 important dimensions of primary care provision. Variations in scale scores were investigated for differences relating to age, gender, socioeconomic, and ethnic status as reported by respondents.

Results—A total of 7692 questionnaires were returned (71% response rate). Valid information on age, gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity was available for 4819 out of 5496 adult respondents. Approximately half the respondents reported their ethnic group as "white" and most of the remaining respondents reported belonging to "black" or South Asian groups. Significant differences existed between groups of patients defined by age or ethnicity for most of the scale scores examined. Black, South Asian, and Chinese respondents reported lower scores (representing less favourable assessments) than white respondents; older respondents reported more favourable evaluations of care than younger respondents; and less affluent groups reported lower scores than more affluent groups for two of the 13 dimensions. There was no significant difference between gender groups with respect to assessment of primary care. Age and ethnicity were independent predictors of respondents' assessments of primary care.

Conclusions—Differences exist between identifiable subgroups of the population in their assessments of primary health care measured using the GPAS instrument. This work adds to the literature on variation in healthcare experience and the potential for patient assessment of primary care. Further work is required to investigate these differences in more detail and to relate them to differences in the nature and process of primary care provision. Primary care providers need to ensure that services provided are appropriate for all patient groups within their communities.

Key Words: primary health care; ethnicity; inequality; quantitative methodology

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Selected References

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