Follow-up care by patient's own general practitioner after contact with out-of-hours care. A descriptive study

Caro J T van Uden, Paul J Zwietering, Sjoerd O Hobma, Andre J H A Ament, Geertjan Wesseling, Onno C P van Schayck, Harry F J M Crebolder
BMC Family Practice 2005 June 9, 6 (1): 23

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the care process after patients have contacted a GP cooperative for out-of-hours care. The objective of this study was to determine the proportion of patients who seek follow-up care after contact with a GP cooperative for out-of-hours care, and to gain insight into factors that are related to this follow-up care.

METHODS: A total of 2805 patients who contacted a GP cooperative for out-of-hours care were sent a questionnaire. They were asked whether they had attended their own GP within a week after their contact with the cooperative, and for what reason. To investigate whether other variables are related to follow-up care, a logistic regression analysis was applied. Variables that entered in this analysis were patient characteristics (age, gender, etc.) and patient opinion on correctness of diagnosis, urgency and severity of the medical complaint.

RESULTS: The response rate was 42%. In total, 48% of the patients received follow-up care from their own GP. Only 20% were referred or advised to attend their own GP. Others attended because their medical condition worsened or because they were concerned about their complaint. Variables that predicted follow-up care were the patient's opinion on the correctness of the diagnosis, patient's health insurance, and severity of the medical problem.

CONCLUSION: Almost half of all patients in this study who contacted the GP cooperative for out-of-hours care attended their own GP during office hours within a week, for the same medical complaint. The most important factor that predicted follow-up care from the patient's own GP after an out-of-hours contact was the patient's degree of confidence in the diagnosis established at the GP cooperative. Despite the limited generalisability, this study is a first step in providing insight into the dimension of follow-up care after a patient has contacted the GP cooperative for out-of-hours primary care.

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