List size, composition of practice and general practitioners' workload in The Netherlands

P P Groenewegen, J B Hutten, K van der Velden
Social Science & Medicine 1992, 34 (3): 263-70
Workload of general practitioners plays an important role in discussions about list size and remuneration in health care systems with fixed patient lists and capitation payments, such as in the Netherlands and in the United Kingdom. Against the background of the fairness of differences in income level between GPs the question is posed to what extent differences in list size reflect differences in workload and to what extent differences in patient characteristics influence workload. Both list size and practice composition relate to the demand led character of general practice. Data collected in the National Study of Morbidity and Interventions in General Practice are used. Central to this study is a three month recording of all contacts of 161 general practitioners (and their locums, assistant GPs and trainees) in the Netherlands. For each practice a patient register has been made to relate contacts to the practice population. The participating GPs kept a detailed diary covering 24 hr a day during one week. As indicators of workload several contact rates, hours worked in practice per week (in direct patient care and in other activities) and average length of office consultations are used. Demand related characteristics have the strongest relation to the number of hours worked by GPs, particularly the number of hours spent in patient-related activities. Rates of contacts, with the exception of the office contact rate, are not related to list size, but mainly to practice composition. The average length of consultations is negatively related to list size and some characteristics of the practice population.

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