Follow-up after telephone consultations at out-of-hours primary care

Linda Huibers, Jan Koetsenruijter, Richard Grol, Paul Giesen, Michel Wensing
Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine: JABFM 2013, 26 (4): 373-9

BACKGROUND: After a contact with a primary care physician (PCP) cooperative for out-of-hours care, many patients have subsequent contact with health care. Little is known about the factors associated with these follow-up contacts. The objective of this study was to examine whether patient experiences with nurse telephone consultations and the cooperative's organizational characteristics were associated with the probability of follow-up contact.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study of patients attending 16 Dutch PCP cooperatives (2009 to 2011) using a validated questionnaire to measure patient experiences with nurse telephone consultations and patient-reported follow-up. Participating cooperatives provided information on 12 organizational characteristics. Multilevel regression modeling was used to identify associations.

RESULTS: A total of 7039 patients returned a questionnaire (50.4%), of which 5678 were complete. About half of patients reported a follow-up contact (47%). Regression analyses showed increasing probability of follow-up contact in patients with higher age (≥65 years; odds ratio [OR], 2.39), patients receiving a home visit (OR, 1.32), and cooperatives with a higher percentage of telephone consultations (OR, 1.02) and a decreased probability among patients with more positive experiences with a nurse via telephone contact (OR, 0.68).

CONCLUSION: Although follow-up contacts can be medically required, a substantial number of contacts seem to be not required and thus are potentially avoidable (eg, by changes in work routine and communication).

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