OBJECTIVE: To find out how Estonian people evaluate the changes in primary health care (PHC), how they perceive the acceptability of the new PHC system, and to assess patients' satisfaction with their primary care doctor.
DESIGN: Face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires.
STUDY PARTICIPANTS: A random sample of Estonian residents aged 15-74 years (n = 997).
MAIN MEASURES: Acceptability of PHC system (accessibility, the patient-practitioner relations, amenities, and patient's preferences) and patients' satisfaction with primary care doctor.
RESULTS: Of the 997 respondents, 46% were sufficiently informed about the transition to the general practitioner (GP)-based PHC system; however, 45% of respondents had not personally experienced any changes. Of the 997 persons interviewed, 68% were registered on the patient list of a GCP, and 62% of those who had health problems preferred to consult the primary care doctor first. The waiting time for an outpatient appointment was brief (0-2 days). Of the 997 respondents, 68% were satisfied with their primary care doctor. Satisfaction was dependent on: (i) how patients evaluated the competence of the physician; (ii) comprehensibility of doctor's explanations; and (iii) comfort of the clinic. The right of patients to choose their own primary care doctor and having sufficient information about the changes in PHC system had a positive influence on the level of satisfaction.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients' opinions are important in the evaluation of PHC. To increase the level of satisfaction, people need to understand the nature and intent of the primary care reforms. Personal choice of primary care doctor and good patient-doctor relationships are important factors too.
2000. Vol. 12, no 6, 503-9 p.
Acceptability, General Practitioner, Patient Satisfaction, Primary Health Care Reform