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Int J Health Plann Manage. 2012 Jul-Sep;27(3):e162-72. doi: 10.1002/hpm.2104. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Is choice of care compatible with integrated health care? An exploratory study in Sweden.

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  • 1Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden. bengt.ahgren@nhv.se


Competitive and integrative policy actions are simultaneously being promoted in Swedish primary care; citizens' choice of care is launched while primary care is expected to integrate its activities with other providers for the creation of 'local health care'. Competition tends, however, to fragment the provision of services. The aim of this study is, accordingly, to explore whether or not these policies are compatible in practice. For this purpose, strategically designed group interviews were conducted with citizens. When citizens make active choices, they are under the influence of self-perceived conditions: that is, the accessibility of the care, its continuity and the treatment offered by the care provider, conditions which, in turn, have a lot in common with the guiding principles of local health care. On the other hand, citizens who choose passively, because of not being in contact with primary care, have no difficulties in being disloyal to the chosen unit when becoming patients. In doing so, they also contribute to the fragmentation of local health care. Making entirely free choices when it comes to primary care seems to be incompatible with local health care. However, choice of care only partly equals the conditions of free choice. Choice of care and local health care would thus seem to be compatible, in practice, for the majority of patients.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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