Objective: To determine the effect of a non-committal registration specifying the intention of patients to contact a particular general practitioner, on patient loyalty in Belgium.
Setting: Antwerp and Liège
Design: Case control study.
Method: Medical consumption was registered during one year by two health insurance companies for a group of 4000 participating patients (experimental group) and 4000 non-participants (control group) within two selected areas (Antwerp and Liège). Patient loyalty was measured by means of the normalised usual provider continuity index.
Results: No relevant differences were found between the experimental group and the control group. Even when taking into account that a general practitioner is not available 20% of the time, the proportion of loyal patients hardly reached 70%.
Conclusion: A non-committal registration had no influence on patient loyalty. There is a clear difference between intention and actual behaviour. More coercive measures are needed to reach a more loyal behaviour.