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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

General practitioners' experience and benefits from patient evaluations

Hanne N Heje*, Peter Vedsted and Frede Olesen

Author Affiliations

The Research Unit and Department of General Practice, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark

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BMC Family Practice 2011, 12:116  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-116

Published: 31 October 2011

Abstract

Background

It has now for many years been recognised that patient evaluations should be undertaken as an integral part of the complex task of improving the quality of general practice care. Yet little is known about the general practitioners' (GPs') benefit from patient evaluations. Aim 1 was to study the impact on the GPs of a patient evaluation and subsequent feedback of results presented at a plenary session comprising a study guide for the results and group discussions. Aim 2 was to study possible facilitators and barriers to the implementations of the results raised by the patient evaluation process.

Methods

A patient evaluation survey of 597 voluntarily participating GPs was performed by means of the EUROPEP questionnaire. Evaluation results were fed back to the GPs as written reports at a single feedback meeting with group discussions of the results. Between 3 and 17 months after the feedback, the 597 GPs received a questionnaire with items addressing their experience with and perceived benefit from the evaluations.

Results

79.4% of the GPs responded. 33% of the responding GPs reported that the patient evaluation had raised their attention to the patient perspective on the quality of general practice care. Job satisfaction had improved among 26%, and 21% had developed a more positive attitude to patient evaluations. 77% of the GPs reported having learnt from the evaluation. 54% had made changes to improve practice, 82% would recommend a patient evaluation to a colleague and 75% would do another patient evaluation if invited. 14% of the GPs had become less positive towards patient evaluations, and job satisfaction had decreased among 3%.

Conclusions

We found a significant impact on the GPs regarding satisfaction with the process and attitude towards patient evaluations, GPs' attention to the patients' perspective on care quality and their job satisfaction. Being benchmarked against the average seemed to raise barriers to the concept of patient evaluations and difficulties interpreting the results may have formed a barrier to their implementation which was partly overcome by adding qualitative data to the quantitative results. The GPs' significant willingness to share and discuss the results with others may have served as a facilitator.