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Fam Pract. 2016 Apr;33(2):179-85. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmw004. Epub 2016 Mar 2.

Comparing importance and performance from a patient perspective in English general practice: a cross-sectional survey.

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School of Health and Social Care and.
School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK and.
NIVEL, The Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
School of Health and Social Care and



Patient experience and satisfaction are important indicators of quality in health care. Little is known about where to prioritize efforts to improve patient satisfaction.


To investigate patient satisfaction with primary care, as part of the Quality and Costs of Primary Care in Europe study in England, identifying areas where improvements could be made from patients' perspectives.


We conducted a questionnaire survey of general practice patients in three English regions. Patient Values questionnaires assessed what patients thought was important, and Patient Experience questionnaires rated performance of primary care. Fifteen attributes of care were compared using Importance Performance Analysis, a method that simultaneously represents data on importance and performance of a service, enabling identification of its strengths and weaknesses.


Patients rated both 'relational' and 'functional' aspects of care as important. Satisfaction with general practice could be improved by concentrating on specific aspects of access (ensuring that patients know how to access out-of-hours services and find it easy to get an appointment), and one aspect of empowerment (after their visit, patients feel able to cope better with their health problem/illness). However, for other attributes (e.g. proximity of the practice to a patient's house or, a short waiting time when contacting the practice), investing additional resources is not likely to increase patient satisfaction.


Attributes needing most improvement concerned access to primary care and patient empowerment. More research is needed to identify how to improve access without generating unnecessary additional demand or compromising continuity of care.


Family practice; patient satisfaction; patient-centered care; primary care; quality improvement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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