Users' perceptions of medical services in primary health care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Fortaleza, Brazil
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School of Medicine, Universidade de Fortaleza, Brazil
Universidade Federal do Ceará, Brazil
Department of Conservative Dentistry, Periodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Centre for Biomedical Research and Innovation (CIIB), Brazil
Centro Universitário Christus, Brazil
Universidade de Fortaleza, Brazil
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A497
Introduction: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries reorganized their health systems, prioritizing emergency consultations over primary care. Objective: To evaluate adult users perceptions of medical care received between April 2020 and July 2021, in public primary health care (PHC) in Fortaleza, Northeast of Brazil. Methods: This is a cross-sectional study involving a survey and analysis of medical records (MR). Between August and November 2021, 126 participants were enrolled, invited by convenience, from 3 PHC units. We performed an ordinal logistic regression to verify the factors associated with users perceptions regarding the medical care received. Results: 107 women (84.9%) and 19 men (15.1%) participated, with a mean age of 39.7 years; 42.9% of participants waited 30 to 60 minutes for appointments; 69% believed the pandemic interfered with that time; 78.6% believed there were not enough doctors to provide proper care. Distancing, masks, and face shields interfered with consultations, according to 16.7% of respondents. 53.2% rated the services received as "very good". EMR data were collected from 58 participants: 49 women and 9 men. The average number of consultations in the period was 4.47. General consultations and nonspecific complaints were the most frequent ICD-10 codes in the MR, followed by respiratory symptoms and suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 (11.5%), and prenatal care (9.6%). The average number of times a user received medication was 9.33. Their perceptions of care were influenced by: believing there were enough doctors available to meet appointments; believing that the pandemic interfered with their waiting time; the availability of professionals for counseling; the user’s gender; and the times a user received medication (p = 0.0002). Conclusions: Clinical consultations maintained their quality according to users despite the pandemic overload and changes in health professionals work. It is possible to use these results in future crises to improve assistance.