BackgroundIt is well known that countries with well-structured primary care have better health outcomes, better health equity and reduced healthcare costs. This study aimed to culturally modify and validate the US consumer form of the short Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT) in primary care in the Republic of Korea (hereafter referred to as Korea). MethodThe Korean consumer form of the short PCAT (KC PCAT) was cross-culturally modified from the original version using a standardized transcultural adaptation method. A pre-test version of the KC PCAT was formulated by replacement of four items and modification of a further four items from the 37 items of the original consumer form of the short PCAT at face value evaluation meetings. Pilot testing was done with a convenience sample of 15 responders at two different sites. Test–retest showed high reliability. To validate the KC PCAT, 606 clients participated in a survey carried out in Korea between February and May 2006. Internal consistency reliability, test–retest reliability and factor analysis were conducted in order to test validity. ResultsPsychometric testing was carried out on 37 items of the KC PCAT to make the KS PCAT which has 30 items and has seven principal domains: first contact utilisation, first contact accessibility, ongoing accountable care (ongoing care and coordinated rapport care), integrated care (patient-centred care with integration between primary and specialty care or between different specialties), comprehensive care, community-oriented care and culturally-oriented care. Component factors of the verified KS PCAT explained 58.28% of the total variance in the total item scores of primary care. ConclusionsThe verified KS PCAT has been characterized by the seven classic domains of primary care with minor modifications. This may provide clues concerning differences in expectations for primary care in the Korean population as compared with that of the US. The KS PCAT is a reliable and valid tool for the evaluation of the quality of primary care in Korea. It will be used to identify any aspects of primary care linked to better or worse health outcomes, and to provide evidence-based evaluations of or recommendations for Korean healthcare policy.