Objective: To determine whether patient evaluations of the accessibility to general practice and co-ordination with other care providers were associated with characteristics of general practice organizations.
Background: In 1998 patients across Europe perceived that small general practices have better accessibility than large practices. Since then a number of changes in primary care have had impact on accessibility and co-ordination of care.
Design, setting and participants: The study was based on data from the European Practice Assessment study, an observational study in 284 general practices in 10 countries in 2004.
Main outcome measures: Patient evaluations of general practice were measured with the 23-item Europep instrument, from which seven items on accessibility and co-ordination were selected in a principal factor analysis. Six practice characteristics were examined: percentage of female general practitioners, mean age of physicians, mean number of physician hours worked per week, number of general practitioners, number of care providers, urbanization level. Mixed regression models were applied, in which patients were clustered within practices, and practices within countries.
Results: Practices with a higher numbers of care providers received less positive patient evaluations (b= -0.112, P=0.004). The other practice characteristics were not related to patient evaluations. Only a small proportion of the total variation in patient evaluations of accessibility and co-ordination (1.8%) was explained by characteristics of the general practice organizations.
Conclusions: General practices have become larger in most developed countries in recent years, but patients seemed to prefer general practice organizations with fewer health professionals.