Setting up a Local Health Center in a Rural Region
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Background: Setting up local health centers is a recommended solution to the problem of how to ensure population-based and comprehensive primary care, especially in rural areas. However, little is known about how prospective patients view local health centers and which elements they consider essential. The aim was to investigate how the population of a rural region in southern Hesse (Germany) evaluated the establishment of a local health center.Methods: Between June and July 2017 a cross-sectional study of the population of the Southern Hessian region of Oberzent was conducted. A self-selected group of participants (age ≥ 18 years) was surveyed using a questionnaire. It asked about socio-demographics and contained further questions on satisfaction with current health care provision, and the core domains of primary care. The Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT) was used to assess the core domains. Additional questions sought to identify the range of services that would ideally be provided by the developing primary health care center. The data were analyzed descriptively and a PCAT score was calculated.Results: 266 questionnaires out of 500 were completed (response rate 53 %). More than half the respondents were rather dissatisfied with current healthcare provision by family physicians (n = 146/257, 57 %) and specialists (n = 153/244, 63 %). Most respondents (n = 234/262, 93 %) consider a local health center necessary to ensure the provision of easily accessible primary care. The respondents regarded the establishment of more family practices, as well as the PCAT domains “family centeredness” and “coordination”, as particularly important. Conclusions: To promote acceptance and sustainability when establishing primary health care centers, the needs of the population as well as core domains of primary care should be taken into consideration.