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Healthc Policy. 2011 Dec;7(Spec Issue):94-107.

Accessibility from the patient perspective: comparison of primary healthcare evaluation instruments.

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Department of Family Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC.


The operational definition of first-contact accessibility is "the ease with which a person can obtain needed care (including advice and support) from the practitioner of choice within a time frame appropriate to the urgency of the problem"; accommodation is "the way healthcare resources are organized to accommodate a wide range of patients' abilities to contact healthcare providers and reach healthcare services, that is to say telephone services, flexible appointment systems, hours of operation, and walk-in periods."


To compare how well accessibility is measured in validated subscales that evaluate primary healthcare from the patient's perspective.


645 adults with at least one healthcare contact in the previous 12 months responded to six instruments that evaluate primary healthcare with four subscales that measure accessibility: the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS), the Primary Care Assessment Tool - Short Form (PCAT-S, two subscales) and the first version of the EUROPEP (EUROPEP-I). Scores were normalized to a 0-to-10 scale for descriptive comparison. Exploratory and confirmatory (structural equation modelling) factor analysis examined fit to operational definition, and item response theory analysis examined item performance on common constructs.


The subscales demonstrate similar psychometric measures to those reported by developers. The PCAT-S First-Contact Utilization subscale does not fit the accessibility construct. The remaining three subscales load reasonably onto a single factor, presumed to be accessibility, but the best-fitting model has two factors: "timeliness of obtaining needed care" (PCAT-S First-Contact Access, some EUROPEP-I items) and "how resources are organized to accommodate clients" (PCAS Organizational Access and most of EUROPEP-I organization of care). Items in the PCAS and PCAT-S subscales have good discriminability.


Only three of the four subscales measure accessibility; all are appropriate for use in Canada. The PCAT-S First-Contact Access subscale is the best measure for first-contact accessibility, and PCAS Organizational Accessibility has good metric properties and measures for accommodation.


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