Background: In 2009, China launched its new round of health care reform. One of its priorities was to strengthen primary care and establish a family practice system.
Objective: This study examined the relationship between use of family practice physician for primary care and the quality of primary care.
Methods: Eight health care organizations were sampled from three cities in Guangdong Province, China. One thousand six hundred and forty five patients of age 18 and older who visited one of the study sites as their usual source of primary care were systematically selected and surveyed using Johns Hopkins China-validated Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT). Analyses were performed to compare the quality of primary care experienced between patients who contracted for family practice services and those who did not.
Results: Total PCAT score as well as scores in first contact-access, continuity, comprehensiveness and coordination domains were higher among patients who contracted with family practice services, compared to those who did not. In addition, patients who sought care through family practice services reported greater satisfaction with their care experience.
Conclusion: This study provided evidence that family practice has the potential to provide higher-quality primary care, which may encourage patients to seek family practice physicians for their primary care needs, and help family practitioners better perform gatekeeping functions.
Keywords: Access to care; family practice; primary care; quality of care; usual source of care..
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