This is why you should not change your family doctor - healing practice

Why continuity of doctor visits is so important

When people see the same GP over and over again, it is associated with better health outcomes and a reduced risk of hospitalization and premature death. In particular, the elderly, people with complex, long-term or multiple illnesses, or people with poor general mental health seem to benefit.

Visits to 126 medical practices and their impact on health have been examined in a new study involving experts from Queen Mary University of London. The results were published in the British Journal of General Practice.

who participated in the study?

Study participants were one million people who visited their family doctor three or more times between January 2017 and December 2018. Data from electronic health records was linked to results from surveys of general practitioners.

What influences the continuity of use of medical practices?

Experts found that around half (52%) of participants regularly saw the same GP. It turned out that the age of the participants and the size of the practice were the best indicators of continuity.

The older the participants, the more likely they were to see the same GP, and the greater the practice, the lower the likelihood of continuity of visits, the researchers report.

Who benefited the most from continuity?

Continuity of care leads to better outcomes for participants, especially the elderly, those with complex, long-term or multiple illnesses, or those with poor mental health, the team adds.

Fewer hospitalizations and less mortality

Experts say people who get most of their treatment from the same doctor are less likely to be hospitalized and have a lower death rate.

When continuity of care declines, those named above may be particularly affected, leading to suboptimal care and allowing important health issues to be overlooked, the researchers say.

Continuity builds relationships of trust

Continuity of care tends to build a relationship of trust between the person and the doctor treating them. Therefore, these people are more likely to follow the advice and take preventive measures to improve their health.

Why continuity of care is down

Continuity of care has steadily diminished. The reasons for this include, for example, the expansion of larger practices, the increase in the number of part-time general practitioners, difficulties in recruiting staff and the fact that rapid access takes precedence over continuity, experts report. .

The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has amplified many of these factors and changed how people interact with local practices, the researchers add.

“Continuity of care leads to better outcomes, particularly in older patients and those with complex needs, and should be routinely measured as a measure of quality of practice,” reports the study author. , Dr. Sally Hull in a press release.

“We have shown that it is possible to measure continuity in a simple way, through health economics and using information already collected routinely,” she adds.

The researchers suspect that improved continuity should have a positive effect on examinee and physician satisfaction and at the same time improve clinical outcomes. (as)

Author and source information

Show now

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Sally Hull, Crystal Williams, Peter Schofield, Kambiz Boomla, Mark Ashworth: Measuring continuity of care in general practice: a comparison of two methods using routinely collected data; in: British Journal of General Practice (published 28 June 2022), British Journal of General PracticeQueen Mary University of London: Seeing the same GP is good for your health, but only half of patients are able to (published 29 June 2022), Queen Mary University of London

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.