Familiarity with a GP and patients' evaluations of care. A cross-sectional study

Fam Pract. 2005 Feb;22(1):15-9. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmh721. Epub 2005 Jan 7.


Background: Personal continuity is considered a core feature of general practice care. Nowadays, another important concept for general practice may be patients' familiarity with a GP.

Objectives: We studied the extent to which patients see a familiar GP, and how this matches their preferences. Furthermore we studied the impact of knowing the GP on patients' evaluations of consultations.

Methods: A cross-sectional design was used and 2400 patients visiting 17 general practices (30 GPs) in The Netherlands for a consultation were approached; 2152 patients completed the questionnaire. The main outcome measures were: i) the extent to which patients saw a familiar GP in relation to the reason for encounter, perceived seriousness of symptoms, and concern about symptoms; and ii) the impact of 'knowing the GP' on patients' overall satisfaction with the consultation, feeling of being helped to move forwards, trust in the GP, and perceived clearness of treatment plans.

Results: Patients saw a familiar GP to a high extent, regardless of the reason for encounter, perceived seriousness of symptoms and worries. Higher levels of familiarity with a GP were associated with higher levels of satisfaction, with increased feelings of being helped forward, with more trust in the GP, and with the perception of clearer treatment plans made. A multivariate model including the variable 'knowing the GP' explained 11% of the observed variance in patients' evaluations of consultations.

Conclusion: Familiarity with a GP improves patients' assessment of general practice care. Also in the future, personal continuity should be promoted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires