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Primary care experiences among Brazilian adults: Cross-sectional evidence from the 2019 National Health Survey



The Brazilian Family Health Strategy (FHS) is strongly associated with better health system performance, but there are no nationally-representative data examining individual-level primary care experiences in the country. Here, we examine reports of primary care experiences among adults with different forms of healthcare coverage (FHS, "traditional" public health posts, and private health plans).


Data are from the 2019 National Health Survey that included a shortened version of the Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT). PCAT questions were administered to a subsample of randomly-selected adults who had a doctor visit within the past 6 months and sought care in a primary care setting (9677 respondents). We used linear regression to examine the association between type of healthcare coverage and PCAT scores adjusted for sex, age, socioeconomic status, health status, geographic region and state of residence.


Primary care experiences in the sample of Brazilians who had a doctor visit 6 months prior to the survey averaged a modest PCAT score of 57 out of 100. Regression models show that users of the FHS had superior primary care experiences, but with large variations across Brazilian regions and states. Individuals selected to respond to the PCAT questions were more likely to be female, older, and poorer, and to be in worse health than the general population.


Brazil's FHS is associated with modest, but higher-reported primary care experiences than both traditional public health posts and those who have a private health plan. Future iterations of the PCAT module could enhance generalizability by including individuals who had a doctor visit in the past 12 (instead of 6) months.

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