BACKGROUND. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently initiated a system of Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) to enhance delivery of primary care to veterans. OBJECTIVE. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of CBOCs on patients' perceptions of care. RESEARCH DESIGN. The study design is a cross-sectional survey. SUBJECTS. This study compares 4,980 patients from 44 geographically diverse CBOCs to 4,159 patients from 36 parent VA Medical Center primary care clinics administratively and geographically associated with the CBOCs studied. MEASURES. Survey data were obtained from the 1998 VA National Outpatient Customer Satisfaction Survey which assesses eight multiitem scales addressing access and timeliness of care, education/information, patient preferences, emotional support, coordination of care, courtesy, and specialty care access. Each scale was evaluated based upon item responses that indicate a problem with care. The survey also contained SF-12 health status measures used for case-mix adjustment. RESULTS. Multivariate logistic regression controlling for patient health status measures revealed that CBOC patients reported fewer problems with care than VA-based patients on 7 of 8 scales though the absolute differences were small for most of the scales. The largest difference was observed for the access/timeliness scale. Significant differences between VA-staff and contract CBOCs were not observed. CONCLUSIONS. These results suggest that veterans participating in VA's initiative to provide primary care in community-based settings report no more than, and in some dimensions fewer problems with care compared with veterans who receive care in VAMC clinics.
- Access to care
- Patient satisfaction