Continuity of nursing care in Finnish primary health care settings: A 15-year follow-up

Risto Raivio, Eija Paavilainen, Kari J. Mattila


Objective: Continuity is an essential part of high-quality nursing care. This study is the first systematic follow-up of Finnish primary health care patients assessing continuity of health centre nursing staff. The aim was to ascertain how longitudinal interpersonal continuity of care is related to patients’ characteristics, their consultation experiences, and how continuity had changed over the 15-year study period.
Methods: A questionnaire survey was conducted among patients attending the health centres in the Tampere University Hospital catchment area from 1998 to 2013. A total of 157,549 patients responded out of 363,464 in almost 60 health centres. We analysed the opinions of patients (n = 47,470) who had visited a nurse during the survey weeks. Opinions on the continuity of care were assessed with the question: “When visiting the health centre, do you usually see the same nurse”, the alternatives being “yes” or “no”. A binary logistic regression model was used.
Results: Almost two thirds of the respondents had met the same nurse when visiting their health care centre. Longitudinal interpersonal continuity of care decreased by 15 percentage (67%-52%) during the study years. Continuity was connected to patient-related items such as a visit in the preceding 12 months (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.17-1.49) and non-urgency of the visit (OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.27-1.63). The most prominent factor contributing to the sense of continuity of care was how attentively nurses had listened to their patients’ problems and shown an interest in them and a willingness to answer their questions (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.120-1.43).
Conclusions: In the past 15 years patient-reported longitudinal interpersonal continuity of nursing care has declined. However continuity of care proved to enhance the experienced quality of primary health care. Continuity was best realized in nursing care when nurses had listened to their patients’ problems, showed interest toward them and a willingness to answer their questions.

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Clinical Nursing Studies
ISSN 2324-7940(Print)   ISSN 2324-7959(Online)

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