Barriers to accessing primary health care: Comparing Australian experiences internationally

Lisa Corscadden, Jean-Frederic Levesque, Virginia Lewis, Mylaine Breton, Kim Sutherland, Jan-Willem Weenink, Jeannie Haggerty, Grant Russell

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Most highly developed economies have embarked on a process of primary health care (PHC) transformation.To provide evidence on how nations vary in terms of accessing PHC, the aim of this study is to describe the extent to which barriers to access were experienced by adults in Australia compared with other countries. Communities participating in an international research project on PHC access interventions were engaged to prioritise questions from the 2013 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey within a framework that conceptualises access across dimensions of approachability, acceptability, availability, affordability and appropriateness. Logistic regression models, with barriers to access as outcomes, found measures of availability to be a problematic dimension in Australia; 27% of adults experienced difficulties with out-of-hours access, which was higher than 5 of 10 comparator countries. Although less prevalent,affordability was also perceived as a substantial barrier; 16% of Australians said they had forgone health care due to cost in the previous year. After adjusting for age and health status, this barrier was more common in Australia than 7 of 10 countries.Findings of this integrated assessment of barriers to access offer insights for policymakers and researchers on Australia’s international performance in this crucial PHC domain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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