Living In A Country With A Strong Primary Care System Is Beneficial To People With Chronic Conditions
Author: Johan Hansen, Peter P. Groenewegen, Wienke G. W. Boerma, Dionne S. Kringos
In light of the growing pressure that multiple chronic diseases place on health care systems, we investigated whether strong primary care was associated with improved health outcomes for the chronically ill. We did this by combining country- and individual-level data for the twenty-seven countries of the European Union, focusing on people’s self-rated health status and whether or not they had severe limitations or untreated conditions. We found that people with chronic conditions were more likely to be in good or very good health in countries that had a stronger primary care structure and better coordination of care. People with more than two chronic conditions benefited most: Their self-rated health was higher if they lived in countries with a stronger primary care structure, better continuity of care, and a more comprehensive package of primary care services. In general, while having access to a strong primary care system mattered for people with chronic conditions, the degree to which it mattered differed across specific subgroups (for example, people with primary care–sensitive conditions) and primary care dimensions. Primary care reforms, therefore, should be person centered, addressing the needs of subgroups of patients while also finding a balance between structure and service delivery.