Clinical pathway of COVID-19 patients in primary health care in 30 European countries: Eurodata study

Eur J Gen Pract. 2023 Dec;29(2):2182879. doi: 10.1080/13814788.2023.2182879. Epub 2023 Mar 21.


Background: Most COVID-19 patients were treated in primary health care (PHC) in Europe.

Objectives: To demonstrate the scope of PHC workflow during the COVID-19 pandemic emphasising similarities and differences of patient's clinical pathways in Europe.

Methods: Descriptive, cross-sectional study with data acquired through a semi-structured questionnaire in PHC in 30 European countries, created ad hoc and agreed upon among all researchers who participated in the study. GPs from each country answered the approved questionnaire. Main variable: PHC COVID-19 acute clinical pathway. All variables were collected from each country as of September 2020.

Results: COVID-19 clinics in PHC facilities were organised in 8/30. Case detection and testing were performed in PHC in 27/30 countries. RT-PCR and lateral flow tests were performed in PHC in 23/30, free of charge with a medical prescription. Contact tracing was performed mainly by public health authorities. Mandatory isolation ranged from 5 to 14 days. Sick leave certification was given exclusively by GPs in 21/30 countries. Patient hotels or other resources to isolate patients were available in 12/30. Follow-up to monitor the symptoms and/or new complementary tests was made mainly by phone call (27/30). Chest X-ray and phlebotomy were performed in PHC in 18/30 and 23/30 countries, respectively. Oxygen and low-molecular-weight heparin were available in PHC (21/30).

Conclusion: In Europe PHC participated in many steps to diagnose, treat and monitor COVID-19 patients. Differences among countries might be addressed at European level for the management of future pandemics.

Keywords: COVID-19; Europe; patient care management; policy; primary health care; standard of care.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Critical Pathways
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Primary Health Care

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the European General Practice Research Network (EGPRN) Grant [2022/01]. This publication is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of the “open access Publikationskosten-Programm.”