Open Access Research article

Decreasing trends in patient satisfaction, accessibility and continuity of care in Finnish primary health care – a 14-year follow-up questionnaire study

Risto Raivio12*, Juhani Jääskeläinen2, Doris Holmberg-Marttila3 and Kari J Mattila23

Author Affiliations

1 Primary Care Unit, Joint Authority for Päijät-Häme Social and Health Care Group, Keskussairaalankatu 7, FI-15850 Lahti, Finland

2 School of Medicine, Department of General Practice, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

3 Centre of General Practice, Pirkanmaa Hospital District, P.O. Box 2000, FI-33521 Tampere, Finland

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:98  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-98

Published: 15 May 2014

Abstract

Background

The aim here was to explore trends in patient satisfaction with primary health care and its accessibility and continuity, and to explore whether through reforms and improvements some of the essential goals had been achieved over a 14-year period of time in Finland.

Methods

Nine questionnaire surveys were conducted over a period of 14 years among patients attending within one week in the 65 health centres in the Tampere University Hospital catchment area. A total of 147,394 responded out of a sample of 333,648 patients. The response rate varied yearly from 53% to 37%.

Results

Patient satisfaction with care in Finnish health centres decreased by nearly 9 percentage units from 1998 to 2011. The fall-off was most marked in the age-group over 64 years. There was a 20 percentage unit’s reduction in ease of access as reported by patients. Respondents also reported that the continuity of care had deteriorated.

Conclusions

Despite major reforms in Finnish health care policy, patients seem to be less satisfied. Our findings challenge both Finnish authorities and GPs to improve the accessibility and continuity of care in primary health services.

Keywords:
Accessibility; Continuity; Patient satisfaction; Primary health care; Questionnaire survey