Yonsei Med J.  2021 Jul;62(7):660-669. 10.3349/ymj.2021.62.7.660.

Role of Primary Care and Challenges for Public–Private Cooperation during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic: An Expert Delphi Study in South Korea

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Chung-Ang University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Departments of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Department of Nursing, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea
  • 5Departments of Family Medicine, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


The aim of this study was to explore the role of primary care facilities and their support measures in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to identify challenges to achieving public–private cooperation in South Korea.
Materials and Methods
Twenty-four leading experts were selected and recruited to participate in this iterative web-based Delphi study. An open-ended questionnaire was administered to collect the expert panel’s views in the first round. In the second round, the panel was asked to rate on a 5-point Likert scale their agreement with individual items gleaned from qualitative content analysis of views expressed in the first round. The participants were offered the opportunity to reevaluate and correct their initial responses in subsequent rounds. Responses in the second and following rounds were analyzed using quantitative descriptive statistics.
The first and second rounds were completed by 54.2% (n=13/24) and 58.3% (n=14/24) of the selected panel, respectively, while 10 out of these 14 participants completed the third round. The panel cited in-person essential medical services, telehealth for fever/respiratory symptoms, surveillance for influenzae-like illness, and minimization of spread to staff as important and appropriate roles of primary care, which are urgent and feasible during a pandemic. Regarding conditions/support for these roles, the panel indicated that institutional support and funding for separate areas, workforce, and telehealth, along with public-private collaborative governance, are urgent, but not feasible.
This study provides guidance on strategies for continuing the required roles of primary care and highlights a need to strengthen public-private partnerships during pandemic events in Korea.


Primary care; COVID-19; pandemics; Delphi technique
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