Understanding "revolving door" patients in general practice: A qualitative study

Andrea E. Williamson*, Kenneth Mullen, Philip Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: 'Revolving door' patients in general practice are repeatedly removed from general practitioners' (GP) lists. This paper reports a qualitative portion of the first mixed methods study of these marginalised patients. Methods. We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews with six practitioner services staff and six GPs in Scotland, utilizing Charmazian grounded theory to characterise 'revolving door' patients and their impact from professionals' perspectives. Results: 'Revolving door' patients were reported as having three necessary characteristics; they had unreasonable expectations, exhibited inappropriate behaviours and had unmet health needs. A range of boundary breaches were reported too when 'revolving door' patients interacted with NHS staff. Conclusions: We utilise the 'sensitising concepts' of legitimacy by drawing on literature about 'good and bad' patients and 'dirty work designations.' We relate these to the core work of general practice and explore the role that medical and moral schemas have in how health service professionals understand and work with 'revolving door' patients. We suggest this may have wider relevance for the problem doctor patient relationship literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding "revolving door" patients in general practice: A qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this