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How do respondents of primary care surveys compare to typical users of primary care? A comparison of two surveys


Background — Primary care surveys are a key source of evaluative data; understanding how survey respondents compare to the intended population is important to understand results in context. The objective of this study was to examine the physician and patient representativeness of two primary care surveys (TRANSFORMATION and QUALICOPC) that each used different sampling and recruitment techniques.

Methods — We linked the physician and patient participants of the two surveys to health administrative databases. Patients were compared to other patients visiting the practice on the same day and other randomly selected dates using sociodemographic data, chronic disease diagnosis, and health system utilization. Physicians were compared to other physicians in the same practice, and other physicians in the intended geographic area using sociodemographic and practice characteristics.

Results — Physician respondents of the TRANSFORMATION survey included more males compared to their practice groups, but not to other physicians in the area. TRANSFORMATION physicians cared for a larger roster of patients than other physicians in the area. Patient respondents of the QUALICOPC survey did not have meaningful differences from other patients who visit the practice. Patient respondents of the TRANSFORMATION survey resided in more rural areas, had less chronic disease, and had lower use of health services than other patients visiting the practice.

Conclusion — Differences in survey recruitment methods at the physician and patient level may help to explain some of the differences in representativeness. When conducting primary care surveys, investigators should consider diverse methods of ensuring representativeness to limit the potential for nonresponse bias.



Cronin S, Li A, Bai YQ, Ammi M, Hogg W, Wong ST, Wodchis WP. BMC Prim Care. 2023; 24(1):80. Epub 2023 Mar 24.

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