The evaluation of primary health care in Brazil: an analysis of the scientific production between 2007 and 2017

Lorena Araujo Ribeiro João Henrique Scatena About the authors


This bibliographic study aims to analyze evaluation studies of primary health care (PHC) in Brazil, focusing on the methodological design adopted and some key evaluation features. We searched the Scientific Electronic Library Online, the Scientific Journals Portal of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (LILACS) database and the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE), using a structured vocabulary search and selecting articles published between 2007 and 2017 that addressed the evaluation of Brazilian PHC services. Forty-one articles were selected by analyzing the following characteristics, among others: year of publication, article modality, PHC service investigated, methodological design, evaluation characteristics and evaluation outcome and potential. Of these 41 studies, the majority (86.8%) originated in field research conducted exclusively in Family Health Units (48.9%). Methodologically, most studies were quantitative; and the Primary Care Assessment Tool was the most used instrument. We also found that Brazilian studies on PHC evaluation reflected the national historical-political structuring of PHC, and for the most part, they reported quality evaluation research. Our review presents the national panorama on PHC evaluation, highlighting the field’s conceptual and practical pluralism, but also its limitations and challenges.

Primary Health Care; Health Care Evaluation; Assessment of Health Research

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