The complexity of patients' satisfaction with out-of-hours care: a qualitative study

Eur J Gen Pract. 2007;13(2):83-8. doi: 10.1080/13814780701410199.


Background: The national health service in the Republic of Ireland is one of a number of European health services currently undergoing significant reform. Out-of-hours primary care has been at the forefront of this process of change, and although patients appear satisfied, the complexity of their response to changes in out-of-hours care has not been fully explored.

Objective: To conduct an analysis of qualitative data collected during a recent study of patients' satisfaction with out-of-hours care in order to explore the full range of patients' views and experiences.

Methods: All patients contacting a family-doctor out-of-hours cooperative over a designated 24-day period were forwarded a postal questionnaire. The questionnaire contained a section giving the patient the opportunity to add qualitative comments concerning their experience. The data were analysed according to the principles framework analysis using Nvivo software.

Results: Analysis of the data resulted in the development of the following thematic categories: service availability, service accessibility, efficiency, continuity of care and quality of care. There was a range of views, both positive and negative, apparent around these themes, with evidence of patients engaging in careful decisions and "trade-offs" in respect of their options for out-of-hours care.

Conclusion: Patients hold a range of views that suggests the complexity around patient satisfaction with out-of-hours care. A qualitative methodological approach can compliment current approaches to the evaluation of patient satisfaction, facilitating the exploration of the full range of patients' views and experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • After-Hours Care* / organization & administration
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires