Development and piloting of a survey to estimate the frequency and nature of potentially harmful preventable problems in primary care from a UK patient's perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Ailsa Donnelly
  • Joanne Beresford
  • Carolyn Gamble
  • Sarah Luty
  • Richard Deacon
  • Avril Danczak
  • Nicola Mann
  • David Townsend
  • James Ashley
  • Paul Bowie


OBJECTIVES: To design and pilot a survey to be used at the population level to estimate the frequency of patient-perceived potentially harmful preventable problems occurring in UK primary care. To explore the nature of the problems, patient-suggested strategies for prevention and opinions of clinicians and the public regarding the potential for harm.

DESIGN: A survey was codesigned by three members of the public and one researcher and piloted through public and patient involvement and engagement networks.

SETTING: Self-selected sample of the UK population.

PARTICIPANTS: 977 members of the public accessed the online survey during October and November 2015.

PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Respondent feedback about the ease of completion of the survey, quality of responses in terms of review by clinicians and members of the public, preliminary estimates of the frequency and nature of patient-perceived potentially harmful problems occurring in the last 12 months.

RESULTS: 638 (65%) members of the public completed the survey and few respondents reported any difficulty in understanding or completing the survey. 132 (21%) respondents reported experiencing a potentially harmful preventable problem during the past 12 months and 108 (82%) of these respondents provided a description that was adequate for at least one clinician to form an opinion about the potentially harmful problem. Respondents were older than the UK generally, more likely to work or volunteer in the healthcare sector and tended to use primary care more frequently but their confidence and trust in their own general practitioner (GP) was similar to that of the UK population as measured by the annual English GP patient survey.

CONCLUSIONS: The survey was acceptable to patients and mostly provided data of sufficient quality for review by clinicians and members of the public. It is now ready to use at a population level to estimate the frequency and nature of potentially harmful preventable problems in primary care from a patient's perspective.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e017786
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2018