Medical researchers at Cardiff University conducted a new study to assess people’s satisfaction with remote GP consultations in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their main aim was to identify the role of demographic factors in satisfaction levels.
The study found that adults with lower levels of education had lower levels of satisfaction with remote GP consultations during the pandemic compared to those with higher levels of education. Moreover, people aged 35-44 years were more satisfied with remote GP consultations than those who were aged 65-74 years.
The authors said the association with education is ‘of considerable interest’ because it shows the need to adapt remote consultations in primary care for particular subgroups of the population.
‘Individuals with lower levels of education may need further support with remote consultations in primary care to improve their satisfaction or indeed be offered face-to-face consultations if a feasible alternative,’ said the authors, writing in the British Journal of General Practice.
Data were collected from over 1400 adults in the UK who reported having recently sought help remotely from their doctor. Participants answered questions about their demographic background and satisfaction with remote GP consultations.
While the study was based on a large UK sample and robust measures to record satisfaction, the researchers acknowledged that ‘data needs to be approached with caution.’
They state, ‘further research is needed to understand the behavioural and social factors (for example, access to and usage of technology) underpinning the association with education.’
Moreover, there was limited representation of those from ethnic minority groups and ‘further exploration of satisfaction with remote GP consultations by ethnic background would be useful.’
However, with remote consultations likely to continue in UK primary care, the present study offers insights to adapt services to ensure equitable satisfaction and reduce potential inequalities in access to primary healthcare services.