Background and objectives: Traditional indices of continuity of care typically capture frequency of physician visits but lack information regarding how patients themselves perceive continuity of care. The present study's objectives were (1) to examine the meaning of continuity of care from the perspective of patients with diabetes and (2) to understand the factors that enhance or detract from continuity of care.
Methods: Seven focus groups with 46 adult patients were held at a health service organization in Northern Ontario. All focus group interviews were tape recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using a phenomenological approach. Triangulation occurred through participant feedback of transcript summaries and consensus of themes by the multidisciplinary research team.
Results: Patients conceptualized continuity of care in a broad and multifaceted manner that was comprised of five components: (1) access to services, (2) interactions with physician, (3) interactions with other health care providers, (4) personal self responsibility, and (5) communication.
Conclusions: Continuity of care was perceived by patients to include a wider range of components than what is traditionally associated with continuity of care. The emphasis on personal self responsibility by some patients provides a deeper understanding of what patients feel encompass continuity of care.