Impact of continuity on quality of care within Primary Care

Problems from a primary care approach of today are especially:

  • i) Does care with high interpersonal continuity of care (practitioner/nurse/team) lead to improved medical outcomes?
  • ii) Does interpersonal continuity of practitioner/nurse/team aid in the management of problems?
  • iii) Which organizational structures improve interpersonal continuity in primary care of today?        

This position paper, coordinated by Prof. Cecilia Bjorkelund of the Department of Primary Health Care at the Gothenburg University, Sweden, concentrate on these issues.

The final draft is published in Quality in Primary Care. For EFPC members free accessible via the member area of this website.

Most studies concerning continuity in primary care has been concentrated on i) one care provider continuity between i.e. doctor and patient, while most nurse research has concentrated on informational continuity, e.g. transmitted from shift from hospital to nursing homes, availability to provide clinical information to any care holder etc , and ii) patient's attitudes and patient satisfaction concerning interpersonal continuity. So far research seems to show, that both patients and caregivers (doctors and nurses) value continuity in the form of regular sources of care, and that provider continuity is related to lower total health care costs on the macro level. Evidence still seems to be lacking concerning added value of interpersonal continuity in general practice, and to what extent continuity contributes to quality of care within primary care.