Most patients have positive GP experiences: AIHW

Matt Woodley

14/10/2020 4:41:45 PM

The majority of survey respondents said their GP listened carefully, spent enough time with them and showed respect for what they had to say.

GP and patient
More than four in five patients felt their GP had showed respect for what they had to say.

The findings, contained in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) Experiences in health care for people with chronic conditions report, are based on information collected from 27,779 respondents.
Of these, around 75% said their GP listened carefully and spent enough time with them, while 81% felt their GP had showed respect for what they had to say.
Patient experience with GPs did not appear to be affected by the presence of chronic disease, with no significant differences seen between those without a chronic condition and those with one or multiple conditions.
This finding differs to non-GP specialists, where there was a progressive decrease in positive patient experience between those with no chronic issues, and patients with one or more conditions.
However, GP–patient experiences did appear to be influenced by other factors, including age, level of disadvantage, the frequency of visits, and the presence of mental health conditions.
‘When compared to those who saw GPs between zero and four times, patients who saw GPs 10 or more times were slightly less likely to report that their GPs always listened carefully to them [69% compared with 77%], showed respect for what they had to say [75% and 82%] and spent enough time with them [71% and 78%],’ the report states.
‘When compared with those in the oldest age group [65 and over] patients in the 15–39 years age group were less likely to report that their GPs always listened carefully to them, spent enough time with them and showed respect for what they had to say.
‘This difference between older and younger patients was largest for reporting that GPs always listened carefully [83% for age 65 and over compared with 68% for age 15–39], and smallest for GPs always showed respect for what the patient had to say [87% compared with 76%].’
The differences in experiences between younger and older patients tended to get larger with the increasing number of chronic conditions reported – only 56% of patients with a chronic disease aged 15–39 reported that their GPs always listened carefully to them.
Additionally, young people with multiple chronic conditions were around three times more likely than equivalent older patients to report that their GPs only listened carefully to them sometimes (14% compared with 4.7%) or rarely or never (3.7% compared with 1.1%).
Patients with mental health conditions also reported different experiences of care from both GPs and non-GP specialists when compared with other patients with no chronic health conditions, They were particularly less likely than those with no conditions to feel that they were always listened carefully to (66% compared with 76% for GPs, and 70% compared with 84% for non-GP specialists).
Likewise, patients with multiple chronic health conditions who live in the most disadvantaged areas reported less positive experiences with their GPs than those in the least disadvantaged areas – a disparity that was not apparent for non-GP specialists.
The report’s findings led the authors to conclude that while the ‘right ingredients’ for successful condition management and good health are present for many, there is still room for improvement.
‘These findings point to a greater need to understand how being chronically ill impacts patient experiences within the health system, particularly for patients who are young and/or in poor health,’ the report states.
‘In the short term, further work should be done to better understand which of the factors explored in this report most influence experiences of care for vulnerable patients, as well as patients more broadly.
‘Longer-term work should focus on building a better understanding of how the experiences patients have with their medical providers impact on patients’ engagement with the health system more broadly and translate into health outcomes.’
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AIHW chronic disease patient experiences

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