The complexity of patients' satisfaction with out-of-hours care: A qualitative study

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Background: The national health service in the Republic of Ireland is one of a number of European health services currently undergoing significant reform. Out-of-hours primary care has been at the forefront of this process of change, and although patients appear satisfied, the complexity of their response to changes in out-of-hours care has not been fully explored. Objective: To conduct an analysis of qualitative data collected during a recent study of patients' satisfaction with out-of-hours care in order to explore the full range of patients' views and experiences. Methods: All patients contacting a family-doctor out-of-hours cooperative over a designated 24-day period were forwarded a postal questionnaire. The questionnaire contained a section giving the patient the opportunity to add qualitative comments concerning their experience. The data were analysed according to the principles framework analysis using Nvivo software. Results: Analysis of the data resulted in the development of the following thematic categories: service availability, service accessibility, efficiency, continuity of care and quality of care. There was a range of views, both positive and negative, apparent around these themes, with evidence of patients engaging in careful decisions and "trade-offs" in respect of their options for out-of-hours care. Conclusion: Patients hold a range of views that suggests the complexity around patient satisfaction with out-of-hours care. A qualitative methodological approach can compliment current approaches to the evaluation of patient satisfaction, facilitating the exploration of the full range of patients' views and experiences.




Glynn, L. G., MacFarlane, A., & Murphy, A. W. (2007). The complexity of patients’ satisfaction with out-of-hours care: A qualitative study. European Journal of General Practice, 13(2), 83–88.

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