Eliciting preferences of the community for out of hours care provided by general practitioners: a stated preference discrete choice experiment

Anthony Scott, M. S. Watson, S. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Access to primary care services is a major issue as new models of delivering primary care continue develop in many countries. Major changes to out of hours care provided by general practitioners (GPs) were made in the UK in 1995. These were designed in response to low morale and job dissatisfaction of GPs, rather than in response to patients' preferences. The aim of this study is to elicit the preferences of patients and,the,community for different models of GP out of hours care. A questionnaire was sent to parents of children in Aberdeen and Glasgow in Scotland who had received a home visit or attended a primary care emergency centre, or were registered with a GP. The questionnaire used a discrete choice experiment that asked parents to imagine their child had respiratory symptoms. Parents were then asked to choose between a series of pairs of scenarios, with each scenario describing a different model of out of hours care. Each model varied by waiting time, who was seen, location, and whether the doctor listened. The response rate was 68% (3893/5718). The most important attribute was whether the doctor seemed to listen, suggesting that policies aimed at improving doctor-patient communication will lead to the largest improvements in utility. The most preferred location of care was a hospital accident and emergency department. This suggests that new models of primary care emergency centres may not reduce the demand for accident and emergency visits from this group of patients in urban areas. Preferences also differed across sub-groups of patients. Those who had never used out of hours care before had stronger preferences for waiting time and the doctor listening, suggesting higher expectations of non-users. Further research is required into the demand for out of hours care as new models of care become established. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-814
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • out of hours
  • general practice
  • discrete choice experiments
  • patients' preferences
  • Scotland
  • UK


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