Access to general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic – a cross-sectional view of the opinions of adults who use social media

Part of Special Series: WONCA World Rural Health Conference Abstracts 2022go to url


name here
Gabriela Mineva
1 Medical Student *

name here
Aoibhin McCool
2 Medical Student

name here
Bethany Rogers
3 Medical Student

name here
Monika Volz
4 Medical Student

name here
Dana Pearl
5 Medical student

name here
Irene Kiroplis
6 Medical Student

name here
Yasmine Abo Halima
7 Medical Student

name here
Patrick O’Donnell
8 MB, BCh, BAO, MSc, Supervisor ORCID logo

name here
Peter Hayes
9 MD, Senior Lecturer in General Practice


*Ms Gabriela Mineva


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 School of Medicine, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland


10 January 2023 Volume 23 Issue 1


RECEIVED: 20 September 2022

ACCEPTED: 20 September 2022


Mineva G, McCool A, Rogers B, Volz M, Pearl D, Kiroplis I, Abo Halima Y, O’Donnell P, Hayes P.  Access to general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic – a cross-sectional view of the opinions of adults who use social media. Rural and Remote Health 2023; 23: 8087. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH8087


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence

go to urlCited by

no pdf available, use your browser's print function to create one


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of people worldwide. General practices were forced to adapt to constantly changing circumstances, leading to predominance of virtual consultations. The aim of this study was to examine the impact the pandemic had on the ability of patients to access general practice. Other focuses included determining the nature of changes to appointment cancellations or delays and the level of disruption to long-term medication regimes during this period.

Methods: A 25-question online survey was administered using Qualtrics®. Adult patients of Irish general practices were recruited via social media between October 2020 and February 2021. The data were examined for associations between participant groupings and key findings using chi-squared tests.

Results: 670 persons participated. Half of all doctor–patient consultations during that time were completed virtually, predominantly via telephone. Overall, 497 (78%) participants accessed their healthcare teams as scheduled, and without disruption. 18% of participants (n=104) reported difficulty in accessing their long-term medications; those who were younger, and those who typically attend general practice on a quarterly or more basis, were associated most with this disruption (p<0.05; p<0.05).

Discussion: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Irish general practice has maintained its schedule for appointments in greater than three quarters of cases. There was a clear shift away from face-to-face consultations to telephone appointments. Maintaining the prescription of long-term medications for patients remains a challenge. Further work needs to be done to ensure the continuation of care and undisrupted medication schedules during any future pandemics.

You might also be interested in:

2015 - Effect of distance and delay in access to care on outcome of snakebite in rural north-eastern Nigeria

2013 - Five Year Anniversary of The North American Section of Rural and Remote Health: "Timing is Everything!"

2009 - Childhood obesity and elevated blood pressure in a rural population of northern Greece

This PDF has been produced for your convenience. Always refer to the live site https://www.rrh.org.au/journal/article/8087 for the Version of Record.