OBJECTIVES: To describe and explain the primary care experiences of people with multiple long-term conditions in England.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Using questionnaire data from 906,578 responders to the English 2012 General Practice Patient Survey, we describe the primary care experiences of patients with long-term conditions, including 583,143 patients who reported one or more long-term conditions. We employed mixed effect logistic regressions to analyse data on six items covering three care domains (access, continuity and communication) and a single item on overall primary care experience. We controlled for sociodemographic characteristics, and for general practice using a random effect, and further, controlled for, and explored the importance of, health-related quality of life measured using the EuroQoL (EQ-5D) scale.
RESULTS: Most patients with long-term conditions report a positive experience of care at their general practice (after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and general practice, range 74.0-93.1% reporting positive experience of care across seven questions) with only modest variation by type of condition. For all three domains of patient experience, an increasing number of comorbid conditions is associated with a reducing percentage of patients reporting a positive experience of care. For example, compared with respondents with no long-term condition, the OR for reporting a positive experience is 0.83 (95% CI 0.80 to 0.87) for respondents with four or more long-term conditions. However, this relationship is no longer observed after adjusting for health-related quality of life (OR (95% CI) single condition=1.23 (1.21 to 1.26); four or more conditions=1.31 (1.25 to 1.37)), with pain making the greatest difference among five quality of life variables included in the analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with multiple long-term conditions more frequently report worse experiences in primary care. However, patient-centred measures of health-related quality of life, especially pain, are more important than the number of conditions in explaining why patients with multiple long-term conditions report worse experiences of care.
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