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Fam Pract. 2001 Feb;18(1):53-9.

Loyalty to the regular care provider: patients' and physicians' views.

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Centre de recherche, Hôpital Charles LeMoyne, 3120, boulevard Taschereau, Greenfield Park, PQ, Canada.



Changes in the organization of primary care practices are likely to have repercussions on the manner in which patients and physicians perceive loyalty to a regular source of care. A better understanding of their views will contribute to conceptual reflections on this poorly documented topic and, where needed, will reinforce efforts to adapt services to patient expectations.


The aims of this study are to document and compare the views that patients and GPs have of loyalty to the regular care provider.


This exploratory study uses the focus group technique. In 1997, we set up three groups of patients and three groups of physicians practising in Montreal. A total of 23 patients and 14 physicians participated in the study. The meetings investigated the participants' points of view on various aspects of the notion of loyalty. Analysis was based on transcripts of the meetings. The emerging themes were identified and the viewpoints were coded independently and then revised (when necessary) in order to obtain a consensus.


Patients and physicians have a relatively congruent vision of the notion of loyalty. This tendency to use the regular source of care over time appears to be rooted in a formal or informal contract between patients and their physicians and implies a sustained partnership and a strong interpersonal relationship. The relationship established is neither exclusive nor permanent. Patients periodically reconsider it by evaluating their physician's technical and interpersonal skills.


This study highlights the dynamic and multidimensional nature of the notion of loyalty. It shows that patients clearly identify with a particular physician rather than a clinic. The results challenge the prevailing methods of assessing longitudinality of care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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