Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 787–793

The Effects of Primary Care Physician Visit Continuity on Patients’ Experiences with Care

  • Hector P. Rodriguez
  • William H. Rogers
  • Richard E. Marshall
  • Dana Gelb Safran
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-007-0182-8

Cite this article as:
Rodriguez, H.P., Rogers, W.H., Marshall, R.E. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2007) 22: 787. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0182-8

Abstract

Background

Visit continuity is important to patients and valued by physicians. However, it is virtually impossible for primary care physicians (PCPs) to provide care during every paneled patient visit. It remains unclear whether PCP visit discontinuity can be planned in a way that is least disruptive to patients’ experiences with care.

Objective

This study aims to clarify whether visit continuity affects patients’ experiences with primary care equally for all patients.

Design

From January 2004 through March 2005, a large multispecialty practice in Massachusetts administered the Ambulatory Care Experience Survey (ACES) monthly to a random sample of patients visiting each of 145 PCPs. The analytic sample includes 14,835 patients with 2 or more primary care visits over the 6 months before being surveyed. Usual Provider Continuity (UPC), an administratively based measure of PCP visit continuity, was calculated for all respondents. Multilevel regression models that accounted for the clustering of patients within physicians modeled the relationship between UPC and each ACES measure. Interaction effects between UPC and gender, education, self-rated health, and PCP–patient relationship duration were tested.

Results

Physician–patient interaction quality, including physician communication, knowledge of the patient, health promotion support, and organizational access were more strongly influenced by visit continuity among respondents in early stages of a PCP–patient relationship (P < 0.01) and with worse self-rated health (P < 0.01).

Conclusions

Improvements in physician–patient relationship quality can be achieved by targeting visit continuity improvement efforts to patients who benefit most, particularly those in early stages of a PCP–patient relationship and/or perceive their health as poor.

KEY WORDS

continuity of care patient preferences physician–patient relationship primary care quality 

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hector P. Rodriguez
    • 1
  • William H. Rogers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard E. Marshall
    • 3
  • Dana Gelb Safran
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Health Institute, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy StudiesTufts-New England Medical CenterBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Vanguard Medical AssociatesBostonUSA