Background: Because of their challenging social and economic environments, low-income women may find particular features of primary care uniquely important. For this qualitative study we explored which features are priorities to women fiumi low-income settings and whether those priorities fit into an established primary care framework.
Methods: We performed a qualitative analysis of 4 focus groups of women aged 40 to 65 years from 4 community health clinics in Washington, DC. Prompted by semistructured open-ended questions, the focus groups discussed their experiences with ambulatory care and the attributes of primary care that they found important. The focus groups were audiotaped, and the tapes were transcribed verbatim and coded independently by 3 readers.
Results: The comments were independently organized into 5 content areas of primary care service delivery plus the construct of patient-provider relationship in the following order of frequency: accessibility (37.4%), the physician-patient relationship (37.4%), comprehensive scope of services (11.5%), coordination between providers (6.8%), continuity with a single clinician (3.7%), and accountability (3.2%). Commonly reported specific priorities included a sense of concern and respect from the clinicians and staff toward the patient, a physician who was willing to talk and spend time with them (attributes of the physician-patient relationship), weekend or evening hours, waiting times (attributes of organizational accessibility), location in the inner city and on public transport routes (an attribute of geographic accessibility), availability of coordinated social and clinical services on-site; and, availability of mental health services on-site (attributes of comprehensiveness and of coordination).
Conclusions: All attributes of care that were priorities for low-income women fit into 1 of 6 content areas. Specific features within the content areas of accessibility, physician-patient relationship, and comprehensiveness were particularly important for these women.