The aim of the study is to explore to what extent members of the community are willing to participate in the way their primary care practice is organized and which characteristics of people and community are associated with this willingness.
Community participation in primary care refers to involvement of community members in the organization, governance and policy making of primary care facilities. Due to demographic changes and changes in the role of patients and the community concerning health care, it becomes important to include the social environment of patients into healthcare. Community participation may help GPs to improving their practice and providing care according to the needs of the population. Interpreted this way, it may be an important contributor to quality of care.
In 2016, a web questionnaire was send to 800 members of the Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel. The response rate was 34%. Willingness to participate was divided into perceived readiness, ability and time to participate. The data were analysed using frequency tables and linear regression analysis.
Half of the participants were ready to give their opinion on primary care and one-third reported willingness to participate in decision making. Participants were less optimistic about their ability to participate and the time they have available for participation. Readiness and perceived ability were mainly determined by the importance that the respondents attributed to participation. Participants with previous experience in volunteering appeared more willing to spend time on participation.
This study showed that half of the respondents are willing to participate, but they are less sure about their ability to do so and that finding time to participate is seen as problematic. Future research should focus on which characteristics influence willingness. This knowledge might help primary care facilities to recruit people more easily and successfully.