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Longitudinality/continuity of care: identifying dimensions and variables to the evaluation of Primary Health Care in the context of the Brazilian public health system

Longitudinality, which is concerned with Primary Health Care (APS) professionals accompanying patients over time, is considered a central feature of this level of health care. The fulfilment of this attribute is related to positive health results, which justify its use for assessing Primary Health Care. On the other hand, the term is not commonly used by Brazilian authors, and in international literature the term "continuity of care" is used with a similar meaning. Therefore, this study is composed of a conceptual revision of longitudinality/continuity of care, as well as the identification of its dimensions so as to enable the actual performance of this attribute to be assessed. As a result, the similarity between the two terms is highlighted, although the identified dimensions of each attribute do not entirely coincide. The revision allowed three dimensions to be adopted in accordance with the context of the Brazilian public health care system: identification of the basic unit as a regular source of care, a long-lasting treatment bond and continuous information. The proposal of an APS evaluation variables presented herein is line with these dimensions.

Primary health care; Longitudinality; Assessment in primary care

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