“What else to say?”–Primary health care in times of COVID-19 from the perspective of German general practitioners: An exploratory analysis of the open text field in the PRICOV-19 study

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Stark, Stefanie
Kluge, Marie
Schaubroeck, Emmily
Werner, Felix
van Poel, Esther
Willems, Sara
Roos, Marco
Kühlein, Thomas
Burggraf, Larissa


The international collaboration study PRICOV-19 –Primary Health Care in times of COVID-19 aims to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the organisation of primary health care. The German part focuses on the subjective perceptions of general practitioners on primary health care and the impact of political measures during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within this survey, the “open text field” of the questionnaire was utilised remarkably frequently and extensively by the respondents. It became clear that the content that was named needed to be analysed in an exploratory manner. Accordingly, this paper addresses the following question: What preoccupies general practitioners in Germany during COVID-19 that we have not yet asked them enough? Methods

The data collection took place throughout Germany from 01.02.2021 to 28.02.2021with a quantitative online questionnaire consisting of 53 items arranged across six topics as well as an “open text field” for further comments. The questionnaire’s open text field was analysed following the premises of the qualitative content analysis. Results

The topics discussed by the respondents were: insufficient support from health policies, not being prioritised and involved in the vaccination strategy, feeling insufficient prepared, that infrastructural changes and financial concerns threatened the practice, and perceiving the own role as important, as well as that health policies affected the wellbeing of the respondents. One of the main points was the way general practitioners were not sufficiently acknowledged for their contribution to ensuring high-quality care during the pandemic. Discussion

German general practitioners perceived their work and role as highly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. In controversy with their perception, they described political conditions in which they were the ones who contributed significantly to the fight against the pandemic but were not given enough recognition.

Journal Title
PLoS ONE 18.3 (2023): e0282504. <https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0282504>