Purpose: Continuity of patient care is a fundamental tenet of professional nursing, yet comprehension of the concept and related issues remains elusive. The purpose of this study was to explore issues associated with definitions, related concepts, and research methods of continuity of care through systematic literature-based study. In Part 1 of this two-part series, definitions and related concepts, factors, and variables associated with continuity of care were explored.
Design: Qualitative, integrated literature review of a sample of 38 nursing research articles about continuity of care, 1990-1995.
Methods: Ganong's (1987) stages of an integrative research review guided this study. A data collection tool was developed and pilot tested, and rules for data analysis and interpretation were established. Research articles were systematically analyzed and reported using descriptive analysis.
Findings and conclusions: No consensus was found in the literature about the conceptual definition of continuity of care. Continuity of patient care is a multifactorial concept affected by environmental influences, communication, patient, professional, and system factors.