Background: A deep and comprehensive understanding of what patients value about having a personal doctor in primary care is lacking.
Objectives: To acquire a comprehensive understanding of the core values of having a personal doctor in a continuing doctor-patient relationship in primary care among long-term, chronically ill patients.
Method: In this qualitative study, 14 chronically ill patients at three primary health care centres were strategically selected. The centres were selected to include patients with experiences from both long-term and short-term doctors. The patients were asked about their views on having a personal doctor in a continuing doctor-patient relationship in primary care compared with having different short-term doctors. Sixteen health care professionals were interviewed about what chronically ill patients convey to them about having a personal doctor in contrast to seeing different short-term locum doctors. The in-depth interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed by qualitative content analysis.
Results: The core category, i.e. a universal concept that many patients used to describe the impact of having access to a personal doctor, was a sense of security. This was based on four main categories or core foundations which were: feelings of coherence, confidence in care, a trusting relationship and accessibility. In turn, the four main categories emerged from two to four of subcategories.
Conclusion: The foundations that underpin the value of personal care from the patients' perspective could be based on categories found in this study.