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BMJ. 2003 Jun 14;326(7402):1310.

How important is personal care in general practice?

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Clinical Governance Research and Development Unit, Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Leicester, Leicester LE5 4PW. Tarrant



To explore patients' perceptions of the features of personal care and how far these are shared by healthcare providers; whether a continuing relationship between a health professional and a patient is essential for personal care; and the circumstances in which a continuing relationship is important.


Qualitative analysis of semistructured interviews using the "framework" approach.


Six general practices in Leicestershire.


40 patients aged > or = 18 years, 13 general practitioners, 10 practice and community nurses, and six practice administrative staff, recruited through participating practices.


Patients' and healthcare providers' accounts cited human communication, individualised treatment or management, and whole person care as features of personal care. Personal care was described in three different contexts-a continuing relationship, a single consultation, and from the practice as a whole. The extent to which a continuing relationship was important for personal care was determined by the reason for consulting, as well as patients' consulting history and lifestyle.


Patients, general practitioners, primary care nurses, and administrative staff hold similar views on the meaning of personal care, despite differences of emphasis reflecting their different roles. Personal care is promoted by but not always dependent on a continuing provider-patient relationship; human communication and individualised care emerged as important in making care personal whatever the context. Most respondents valued relationships in primary care and had clear ideas about when care in the context of a relationship was most valuable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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