, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 1499-1502
Date: 19 Jun 2008

Primary Care Physician Visit Continuity: A Comparison of Patient-reported and Administratively Derived Measures

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Abstract

Background

Studies find that primary care physician (PCP) visit continuity is positively associated with care quality. Some of the evidence base, however, relies on patient-reported continuity measures, which may be subject to response bias.

Objective

To assess the concordance of patient-reported and administratively derived visit continuity measures.

Design

Random samples of patients (n = 15,126) visiting 1 of 145 PCPs from a physician organization in Massachusetts were surveyed. Respondents reported their experienced visit continuity over the preceding 6 months. Usual Provider Continuity (UPC), an administratively derived measure, was calculated for each respondent. The concordance of patient reports and UPC was examined. Associations with patient-reported physician-patient interaction quality were assessed for both measures.

Results

Patient-reported and administratively derived visit continuity measures were moderately correlated for overall (r = 0.30) and urgent (r = 0.30) measures and modestly correlated for the routine (r = 0.17) measure. Although patient reports and UPC were significantly associated with the physician-patient interaction quality (p < 0.001), the effect size for patient-reports was approximately five times larger than the effect size for UPC.

Conclusions

Studies and quality initiatives seeking to evaluate visit continuity should rely on administratively derived measures whenever possible. Patient-reported measures appear to be subject to biases that can overestimate the relationship between visit continuity and some patient-reported outcomes.