There are well-known methodological and analytical challenges in planning regional healthcare services (HCS). Increasingly, the need for data-derived planning, including user-perspectives, is discussed. This study aims to better understand the possible contribution of citizen experience in the assessment of regional HCS needs in two regions of Germany. Methods:
We conducted a written survey in two regions of differing size—a community (3653 inhabitants) and a county (165,211 inhabitants). Multinomial logistic regression was used to assess the impact of sociodemographic and regional factors on the assessment of HCS provided by general practitioners (GPs) and specialists. Results:
Except for age and financial resources available for one’s own health, populations did not differ significantly between the regions. However, citizens’ perception of HCS (measured by satisfaction with 1 = very good to 5 = very poor) differed clearly between different services (e.g., specialists: 3.8–4.3 and pharmacies: 1.7–2.5) as well as between regions (GPs: 1.7–3.1; therapists: 2.9–4). In the multivariate model, region (next to income and age) was a consistent predictor of the perception of GP- and specialist-provided care. Discussion:
Citizens’ perceptions of HCS correspond to regional provider density (the greater the density, the better the perception) and add insights into citizens’ needs. Therefore, they can provide valuable information on regional HCS strengths and weaknesses and are a valid resource to support decision makers in shaping regional care structures.
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