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Assessing the role of GPs in Nordic health care systems

Randolph K. Quaye (World Studies Department, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, USA)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 3 May 2016




This paper examines the changing role of general practitioners (GPs) in Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. It aims to explore the “gate keeping” role of GPs in the face of current changes in the health care delivery systems in these countries.


Data were collected from existing literature, interviews with GPs, hospital specialists and representatives of Danish regions and Norwegian Medical Association.


The paper contends that in all these changes, the position of the GPs in the medical division of labor has been strengthened, and patients now have increased and broadened access to choice.

Research limitations/implications

Health care cost and high cancer mortality rates have forced Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark to rethink their health care systems. Several attempts have been made to reduce health care cost through market reform and by strenghtening the position of GPs. The evidence suggests that in Norway and Denmark, right incentives are in place to achieve this goal. Sweden is not far behind. The paper has limitations of a small sample size and an exclusive focus on GPs.

Practical implications

Anecdotal evidence suggests that physicians are becoming extremely unhappy. Understanding the changing status of primary care physicians will yield valuable information for assessing the effectiveness of Nordic health care delivery systems.

Social implications

This study has wider implications of how GPs see their role as potential gatekeepers in the Nordic health care systems. The role of GPs is changing as a result of recent health care reforms.


This paper contends that in Norway and Denmark, right incentives are in place to strengthen the position of GPs.



Quaye, R.K. (2016), "Assessing the role of GPs in Nordic health care systems", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 122-135.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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