Family doctor contract service is an important service item in China’s primary care reform. This research was designed to evaluate the impact of the provision of family doctor contract services on the patient-perceived quality of primary care, and therefore give evidence-based policy suggestions.
This cross-sectional study of family doctor contract service policy was conducted in three pilot cities in the Pearl River Delta, South China, using a multistage stratified sampling method. The validated Primary Care Assessment Tool-Adult Edition (PCAT-AS) was used to measure the quality of primary care services. PCAT-AS assesses each of the unique characteristics of primary care including first contact, continuity, comprehensiveness, coordination, family-centeredness, community orientation, culture orientation. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews held from July to November, 2015. Covariate analysis and multivariate Linear Regression were adopted to explore the effect of contract on the quality of primary care by controlling for the socio-demographic status and health care service utilization factors.
A total of 828 valid questionnaires were collected. Among the interviewees, 453 patients signed the contract (54.7%) and 375 did not (45.3%). Multivariate linear regression showed that contracted patients reported higher scores in dimensions of PCAT total score (β = - 8.98, P < 0.000), first contact-utilization(β = - 0.71,P < 0.001), first contact-accessibility(β = - 1.49, P < 0.001), continuity (β = 1.27, P < 0.001), coordination (referral) (β = - 1.42, P < 0.001), comprehensiveness (utilization) (β = - 1.70, P < 0.001), comprehensiveness (provision) (β = - 0.99, P < 0.001),family-centeredness(β = - 0.52, P < 0.01), community orientation(β = - 1.78, P < 0.001), than un- contracted after controlling socio-demographic and service utilization factors. There were no statistically significant differences in the dimensions of coordination (information system) (β = - 0.25, P = 0.137) and culture orientation (β = - 0.264, P = 0.056) between the two both groups.
This study demonstrates that the pilot implementation of family doctor contract services has significantly improved patients’ perceived primary care quality in the pilot cities, and could help solve the quality problem of primary care. It needs further promotion across the province.