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1.  The 30-day prognosis of chronic-disease patients after contact with the out-of-hours service in primary healthcare 
Objective. Little is known about the prognosis of patients with chronic disease who contact the out-of-hours (OOH) service in primary care. The characteristics of contacts with the Danish out-of-hours service and daytime general practice, hospitalization, and death were studied during a 30-day follow-up period in patients with chronic heart diseases. Design. Cohort study. Setting and subjects. The study was based on data from 11 897 adults aged 18 + years from a Danish survey of OOH contacts, including information on consultation type. Reason for encounter (RFE) was categorized by OOH GPs at triage as either “exacerbation” or “new health problem”. Registry data were used to identify eligible patients, and the cohort was followed for 30 days after OOH contact through nationwide registries on healthcare use and mortality. Main outcome measures. The 30-day prognosis of chronic-disease patients after OOH contact. Results. Included patients with chronic disease had a higher risk of new OOH contact, daytime GP contact, and hospitalization than other patients during the 30-day follow-up period. OOH use was particularly high among patients with severe mental illness. A strong association was seen between chronic disease and risk of dying during follow-up. Conclusion. Patients with chronic disease used both daytime general practice and the out-of-hours service more often than others during the 30-day follow-up period; they were more often hospitalized and had higher risk of dying. The findings call for a proactive approach to future preventive day care and closer follow-up of this group, especially patients with psychiatric disease.
PMCID: PMC4278395  PMID: 25471829
Chronic disease; Denmark; general practice; OOH; out-of-hours service; primary healthcare; reasons for encounter
2.  Antibiotic prescribing patterns in out-of-hours primary care: A population-based descriptive study 
Objective. To describe the frequency and characteristics of antibiotic prescribing for different types of contacts with the Danish out-of-hours (OOH) primary care service. Design. Population-based observational registry study using routine registry data from the OOH registration system on patient contacts and ATC-coded prescriptions. Setting. The OOH primary care service in the Central Denmark Region. Subjects. All contacts with OOH primary care during a 12-month period (June 2010–May 2011). Main outcome measures. Descriptive analyses of antibiotic prescription proportions stratified for type of antibiotic, patient age and gender, contact type, and weekdays or weekend. Results. Of the 644 777 contacts registered during the study period, 15.0% received an antibiotic prescription: 26.1% resulted from clinic consultations, 10.7% from telephone consultations, and 10.9% from home visits. The prescription proportion was higher for weekends (17.6%) than for weekdays (10.6%). The most frequently prescribed antibiotic drugs were beta-lactamase sensitive penicillins (34.9%), antibiotic eye drops (21.2%), and broad-spectrum penicillins (21.0%). Most antibiotic eye drops (73%) were prescribed in a telephone consultation. Most antibiotics were prescribed at 4–6 p.m. on weekdays. Young infants received most antibacterial eye drops (41.3%), patients aged 5–17 years and 18–60 years received most beta-lactamase sensitive penicillins (44.6% and 38.9%, respectively), while patients aged 60 + years received most broad-spectrum penicillins (32.9% of all antibiotic prescriptions). Conclusion. Antibiotics were most often prescribed in clinic consultations, but, in absolute terms, many were also prescribed by telephone. The high prescription proportion, particularly antibacterial eye drops for young infants, suggests room for improvement in rational antibiotic use.
PMCID: PMC4278398  PMID: 25350313
After hours; anti-bacterial agents; Denmark; drug prescriptions; general practice; infection; primary care
3.  Daytime use of general practice and use of the Out-of-Hours Primary Care Service for patients with chronic disease: a cohort study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15(1):156.
The importance of proactive chronic care has become increasingly evident. Yet, it is unknown whether the use of general practice (GP) during daytime may affect the use of Out-of-Hours (OOH) Primary Care Service for people with chronic disease. We aimed to analyse the association between use of daytime general practice (GP) and use of OOH services for heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, psychiatric disease, or cancer. In particular, we intended to study the association between OOH contacts due to chronic disease exacerbation and recent use of daytime GP.
Data comprised a random sample of contacts to the OOH services (‘LV-KOS2011’). Included patients were categorised into the following chronic diseases: heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, psychiatric disease, or cancer. Information on face-to-face contacts to daytime GP was obtained from the Danish National Health Insurance Service Registry and information about exacerbation or new episodes from the LVKOS2011 survey. Associations between number of regular daytime consultations and annual follow-up consultations during one, three, six, and 12 months prior to index contacts, and outcomes of interest were estimated by using logistic regression.
In total, 11,897 patients aged ≥ 18 years were included. Of these, 2,665 patients (22.4%) were identified with one of the five selected chronic diseases; 673 patients (5.7%) had two or more. A higher odds ratio (OR) for exacerbation as reason for encounter (RFE) at the index contact was observed among patients with psychiatric disease (OR = 2.15) and cancer (OR = 2.17) than among other patients for ≥2 daytime recent contacts. When receiving an annual follow-up, exacerbation OR at index contact lowered for patients with lung disease (OR = 0.68), psychiatric disease (OR = 0.42), or ≥2 diseases (OR = 0.61).
Recent and frequent use of daytime GP for patients with the selected chronic diseases was associated with contacts to the OOH services due to exacerbation. These findings indicate that the most severely chronically ill patients tend to make more use of general practice. The provision of an annual follow-up daytime GP consultation may indicate a lower risk of contacting OOH due to exacerbation.
PMCID: PMC4262984  PMID: 25238694
4.  Drug prescription by telephone consultation in Danish out-of-hours primary care: a population-based study of frequency and associations with clinical severity and diagnosis 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:142.
Danish general practitioners (GPs) answer all calls to the out-of-hours primary care service. About 60% of the calls are terminated on the telephone through provision of medical advice and prescription of medication. Nevertheless, little is known about the prescription patterns of telephone consultations, such as prescription frequency and indications for drug use. Our aim was to examine the characteristics of patients and GPs in telephone consultations resulting in drug prescription.
The study was based on a 12-month survey on reasons for encounter in the Danish out-of-hours primary care service. A total of 385 GPs (55.5% of all GPs from Central Denmark Region on duty during a year) participated in answering electronic pop-up questionnaires integrated in the electronic patient administration system. The questionnaires contained items on reasons for encounter (e.g. existing chronic disease or new health problem), diagnoses, and GP-assessed severity of the health problem. Data on time of contact, patient gender and age, and prescribed medication (Anatomic Therapeutic Chemical classifications) for telephone consultations were obtained from the patient administration system. Differences in characteristics of patients, general practitioners, and contacts were examined, and associations with prescribed medication were analysed using a multivariate analysis with prevalence ratios.
Medication was prescribed in 19.9% of the included 4,173 telephone consultations; antibiotics and analgesics were prescribed most frequently (10.8% and 2.5%, respectively). GPs tended to assess contacts resulting in antibiotic prescription as more severe than other contacts. For high-severity contacts, there was a lower likelihood for prescription (prevalence ratio = 0.28 (0.16-0.47)). Children aged 0-4 years had lower probability of receiving a prescription compared with patients aged 18-40 years. The prescription rate was highest during the first four hours of the opening hours of the out-of-hours primary care service.
One in five of all telephone consultations involved drug prescription; antibiotics constituted half of these prescriptions. Drug prescription by telephone was less likely to be offered in cases involving ‘severe’ reason for encounter or children. This study calls for further studies of drug prescriptions issued via out-of-hours primary care telephone consultations.
PMCID: PMC4236596  PMID: 25139205
Denmark; General practice; After-hours care; Prescriptions; Telephone
5.  Chronic-disease patients and their use of out-of-hours primary health care: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:114.
The general practitioner (GP) plays an important role for chronic disease care. Continuous and close contact with daytime general practice is intended to prevent medical problems arising outside office hours due to already diagnosed chronic disease. However, previous studies indicate that patients with chronic diseases are frequent users of out-of-hours primary care services (OOH), but knowledge is limited on reasons for encounter (RFE), severity of symptoms, and OOH patient handling. We aimed to describe contacts to the OOH services from patients with chronic heart disease, lung disease, severe psychiatric disorders, diabetes, and cancer in terms of RFE, OOH GP diagnosis, assessed severity of symptoms, and actions taken by the GP.
Eligible patients (aged 18 years and older) were randomly sampled from a one-year cross-sectional study comprising 15,229 contacts to the OOH services in the Central Denmark Region. A cohort of patients with one or more of the five selected chronic diseases were identified by linking data on the Danish civil registration number (CPR) through specific nationwide Danish health registers.
Out of 13,930 identified unique patients, 4,912 had at least one of the five chronic diseases. In total, 25.9% of all calls to the OOH services came from this chronic disease patient group due to an acute exacerbation; 32.6% of these calls came from patients with psychiatric diagnoses. Patients with chronic disease were more likely to receive a face-to-face contact than the remaining group of patients, except for calls from patients with a psychiatric disorder who were more often completed through a telephone consultation. Patients with heart disease calling due to a new health problem formed the largest proportion of all OOH referrals to hospital (13.3%) compared to calls from the other groups with chronic disease (3.4-6.7%).
A third of the patients randomly sampled by their OOH call had one or more of the five selected chronic diseases (i.e. chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, psychiatric disease, or cancer). Patients with chronic disease were more often managed by OOH GPs than other patients.
PMCID: PMC4064509  PMID: 24912378
Out-of-hours services; OOH; Chronic disease; General practice; Primary health care; Reasons for encounter
6.  Consumption in out-of-hours health care: Danes double Dutch? 
Objective. To study the quantitative consumption in out-of-hours (OOH) primary care in Denmark and the Netherlands, in the context of OOH care services. Design. A retrospective observational study describing contacts with OOH care services, using registration data. Setting. OOH care services (i.e. OOH primary care, emergency department, and ambulance care) in one Danish and one Dutch region. Subjects. All patients contacting the OOH care services in September and October 2011. Main outcome measures. Consumption as number of contacts per 1000 inhabitants in total and per age group per contact type. Results. For the two-month period the Danes had 80/1000 contacts with OOH primary care compared with 50/1000 for the Dutch. The number of contacts per 1000 inhabitants per age group varied between the regions, with the largest difference in the 0–5 years age group and a considerable difference in the young-adult groups (20–35 years). The difference was largest for telephone consultations (47/1000 vs. 20/1000), particularly in the youngest age group (154/1000 vs. 39/1000). The Danes also had more home visits than the Dutch (10/1000 vs. 5/1000), while the Dutch had slightly more clinic consultations per 1000 inhabitants than the Danes (25/1000 vs. 23/1000). Conclusion. The Danish population has more contacts with OOH primary care, particularly telephone consultations, especially concerning young patients. Future research should focus on the relevance of contacts and identification of factors related to consumption in OOH primary care.
PMCID: PMC4137903  PMID: 24635578
After-hours care; Denmark; health services research; primary care; the Netherlands; utilization
7.  Could the patient have been seen by a nurse; a questionnaire based survey of GP and patient views in Danish general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:171.
Nurses in Denmark have been increasingly involved in general practice care, which may have implications for the role of the general practitioner (GP) and patients’ experience of primary care. The aim of this study was to explore possibilities of doctor-nurse substitution seen from GP and patient perspectives and patient preferences in regard to consultations with a personal GP.
The study was based on data from a Danish survey on disease patterns in general practice (KOS 2008). Background information on patients and GPs was linked with their responses to whether a nurse could have substituted the GP in consultations and patient-assessed importance of seeing a personal GP. Associations were measured with prevalence rate ratio (PR).
Doctor-nurse substitution was a possibility in 14.8% of consultations according to GPs and in 11.7% according to patients. GP and patient agreed on substitution in 3.5% of consultations (Kappa = 0.164). Follow-up consultations were more often feasible for substitution than new episode according to GPs (adj. PR = 2.06 (1.62-2.62)), but not according to patients (adj. PR = 1.02 (0.64-1.33)). Follow-up consultations were related to high importance of seeing the personal GP (adj. PR = 1.18 (1.05-1.33). For both patients and GPs, consultations with patients with chronic conditions were not significantly associated with nurse substitution. Male and younger patients did more often suggest substitution than women and older patients. For GPs, increasing patient age was associated with relevance of substitution. Patients who found it 'very important’ to see their personal GP were less likely to consider nurse substitution a possibility (adj. PR = 0.57 (0.45-0.71).
GPs and patients found nurse substitution relevant in more than one in ten consultations, although they rarely agreed on which consultations. Follow-up consultations and consultations with older patients were associated with GPs considering nurse substitution appropriate more often. For patients, male and younger patients most often found substitution relevant. High importance of seeing the personal GP may contribute to patient reluctance to nurse substitution, especially for follow-up consultations. The results indicate a need for involving patients’ perspective when altering the future roles of primary health care professionals.
PMCID: PMC3835405  PMID: 24225183
Denmark; General practice; Doctor-nurse substitution; Patients’ perspective; Chronic conditions; Follow-up consultations; Health service delivery; Patient-doctor-relationship
8.  From Doctor to Nurse Triage in the Danish Out-of-Hours Primary Care Service: Simulated Effects on Costs 
Introduction. General practitioners (GP) answer calls to the Danish out-of-hours primary care service (OOH) in Denmark, and this is a subject of discussions about quality and cost-effectiveness. The aim of this study was to estimate changes in fee costs if nurses substituted the GPs. Methods. We applied experiences from The Netherlands on nurse performance in the OOH triage concerning the number of calls per hour. Using the 2011 number of calls in one region, we examined three hypothetical scenarios with nurse triage and calculated the differences in fee costs. Results. A new organisation with 97 employed nurses would be needed. Fewer telephone consultations may result in an increase of face-to-face contacts, resulting in an increase of 23.6% in costs fees. Under optimal circumstances (e.g., a lower demand for OOH services, a high telephone termination rate, and unchanged GP fees) the costs could be reduced by 26.2% though excluding administrative costs of a new organisation. Conclusion. Substituting GPs with nurses in OOH primary care may increase the cost in fees compared to a model with only GPs. Further research is needed involving more influencing factors, such as costs due to nurse training and running the organisation.
PMCID: PMC3806230  PMID: 24194984
9.  Psychological and social problems in primary care patients - general practitioners’ assessment and classification 
Objective. To estimate the frequency of psychological and social classification codes employed by general practitioners (GPs) and to explore the extent to which GPs ascribed health problems to biomedical, psychological, or social factors. Design. A cross-sectional survey based on questionnaire data from GPs. Setting. Danish primary care. Subjects. 387 GPs and their face-to-face contacts with 5543 patients. Main outcome measures. GPs registered consecutive patients on registration forms including reason for encounter, diagnostic classification of main problem, and a GP assessment of biomedical, psychological, and social factors’ influence on the contact. Results. The GP-stated reasons for encounter largely overlapped with their classification of the managed problem. Using the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC-2-R), GPs classified 600 (11%) patients with psychological problems and 30 (0.5%) with social problems. Both codes for problems/complaints and specific disorders were used as the GP's diagnostic classification of the main problem. Two problems (depression and acute stress reaction/adjustment disorder) accounted for 51% of all psychological classifications made. GPs generally emphasized biomedical aspects of the contacts. Psychological aspects were given greater importance in follow-up consultations than in first-episode consultations, whereas social factors were rarely seen as essential to the consultation. Conclusion. Psychological problems are frequently seen and managed in primary care and most are classified within a few diagnostic categories. Social matters are rarely considered or classified.
PMCID: PMC3587306  PMID: 23281962
Classification; Denmark; diagnosis; general practice; ICPC; mental disorders; primary health care; social problems
10.  Chronic care management in Danish general practice - a cross‒sectional study of workload and multimorbidity 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:52.
About 30% of the Danish population has one or more chronic conditions, and general practitioners (GPs) play a key role in effective chronic care management. However, little is known about these encounters in general practice. The aim was to describe the frequency of patients with one or more chronic conditions in general practice and how these consultations were experienced by the GPs.
All GPs in the Central Denmark Region were invited to register all contacts during one day in the 12‒month study period from December; 404 (46%) accepted. For each patient contact, the GPs were asked to fill in a one‒page registration form covering information on chronic disease, reason for encounter, diagnosis, number of additional psychosocial problems raised by the patient during the consultation, time consumption, experienced burden of the consultation, referral to specialized care, and whether a nurse could have substituted the GP. Patients were categorized according to the number of chronic conditions (none, one, two, three or more) and the categories compared with regard to the GP‒experienced burden of the contacts. Moreover, we examined which chronic conditions posed the the greatest challenge to the GPs.
Patients aged 40 years or more had a total of 8,236 contacts. Among these patients 2,849 (34.6%; 95% CI 33.6‒35.6) had one and 2,596 (31.5%; CI 30.5‒32.5) had more than one chronic disease. The time consumption and the burden of their contacts tended to rise with the number of chronic conditions. Being present in 22.9% (CI 21.6‒24.3) of all face‒to‒face contacts, hypertension was the most common chronic condition. The burden of the contacts was experienced as particularly heavy for patients with depression and dementia due to more additional psychosocial problems and the time consumption.
General practitioners considered consultations with multimorbid patients demanding and not easily delegated to nurses. As the number of patients with chronic conditions and multimorbidity is increasing, GPs can be expected to face a heavier workload in the future.
PMCID: PMC3436724  PMID: 22676446
Primary care; Chronic disease; Multimorbidity; Workload
11.  Reasons for encounter and disease patterns in Danish primary care: Changes over 16 years 
Approximately 98% of Danish citizens are listed with a general practice which they consult for medical advice. Although 85% of the population contact their general practitioner (GP) every year, little is known about these contacts. The aim of the present paper is to gain updated knowledge about patients’ reasons for encounter and the GP activities and to make comparisons with a similar study from 1993.
All GPs in the Central Denmark Region were invited to register all contacts during one randomly chosen day within a year. The registration included questions about patients’ reasons for encounter, the types and contents of the contacts, referrals, and distribution between new episodes and follow-up contacts. Aggregated data were compared with the results from 1993.
A total of 404 (46%) GPs participated. The number of contacts per 1000 inhabitants had risen by 19.7%. The reasons for encounter and final diagnoses resembled those in 1993. Musculoskeletal, psychological, and respiratory problems were the most common reasons for encounter, psychological problems being the only type to increase over the period. Interestingly, the proportion of diagnoses within the ICPC ‘A’ chapter rose from 13.5 to 19.7%. The referral rate rose by 2% (relative: 18.7%) from 10.7% to 12.7% and the share of follow-up contacts rose from 45.9% to 50.4% (relative: 8.7%).
Quite small changes were seen in the patterns of reasons for encounter and diagnoses from 1993 to 2009. However, an increase was found in contacts with general practice and referrals and in the proportion of follow-ups.
PMCID: PMC3378007  PMID: 22643150
Denmark; diagnoses; general practice; reasons for encounter; referral rate
12.  Diagnostic scope in out-of-hours primary care services in eight European countries: an observational study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:30.
In previous years, out- of-hours primary care has been organised in large-scale organisations in many countries. This may have lowered the threshold for many patients to present health problems at nights and during the weekend. Comparisons of out-of-hours care between countries require internationally comparable figures on symptoms and diagnoses, which were not available. This study aimed to describe the symptoms and diagnoses in out-of-hours primary care services in regions in eight European countries.
We conducted a retrospective observational study based on medical records from out-of-hours primary care services in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland. We aimed to include data on 1000 initial contacts from up to three organisations per country. Excluded were contacts with an administrative reason. The International Classification for Primary Care (ICPC) was used to categorise symptoms and diagnoses. In two countries (Slovenia and Spain) ICD10 codes were translated into ICPC codes.
The age distribution of patients showed a high consistency across countries, while the percentage of males varied from 33.7% to 48.3%. The ICPC categories that were used most frequently concerned: chapter A 'general and unspecified symptoms' (mean 13.2%), chapter R 'respiratory' (mean 20.4%), chapter L 'musculoskeletal' (mean 15.0%), chapter S 'skin' (mean 12.5%), and chapter D 'digestive' (mean 11.6%). So, relatively high numbers of patients presenting with infectious diseases or acute pain related syndromes. This was largely consistent across age groups, but in some age groups chapter H ('ear problems'), chapter L ('musculoskeletal') and chapter K ('cardiovascular') were frequently used. Acute life-threatening problems had a low incidence.
This international study suggested a highly similar diagnostic scope in out-of-hours primary care services. The incidence rates of acute life-threatening health problems were low in all countries.
PMCID: PMC3114765  PMID: 21569483
primary health care; after-hours care; diagnosis
13.  A Danish population-based cohort study of newly diagnosed asthmatic children's care pathway – adherence to guidelines 
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood. Large variations exist concerning the number of children being treated by general practitioners and by specialists. Consequently, health related costs due to this disease vary as care by specialists is more expensive compared with care by general practitioners. Little is known of the consequences of these variations concerning the quality of care. The aim of the study was to analyse associations between care providers and adherence to guidelines concerning frequency of contacts with the health service due to asthma.
A cohort study was performed of 36,940 incident asthmatic children's (aged 6–14) contacts with the health service using the unique personal registration number to link data from five national registries. The prevalence ratios were calculated for associations between provider (general practitioner, primary care specialist, hospital specialist or both GP and specialist) and adherence with guidelines concerning three indicators of quality of care pathway: 1) diagnostic examination of lung function at start of medical treatment 2) follow-up the first six months and 3) follow-up the next six months. The associations were adjusted for sex, age, socioeconomic status, county, and severity of disease.
Most children (70.3%) had only been seen by their GP. About 80% of the children were treated with inhaled steroids, 70% were treated with inhaled steroids as well as inhaled beta2agonists and 13% were treated with inhaled beta2agonists only. A total of 12,650 children (34.2%) had no registered asthma-related contacts with the health service except when redeeming prescriptions. Care was in accordance with guidelines in all three indicators of quality in 7% of the cases (GPs only: 3%, primary care specialists only: 16%, hospital specialists: 28%, and both GP and specialists: 13%). Primary care specialists had a 5.01, hospital specialists a 8.81 and both GP and specialists a 4.32 times higher propensity to provide a clinical pathway according to guidelines compared to GPs alone.
The majority of the children were seen in general practice. Hospital specialists provided care in accordance with guidelines nine times more often compared with GPs, but still only one quarter of these children had pathways in accordance with guidelines. It is relevant to study further if these lacks of adherence to guidelines have implications for the asthmatic children or if guidelines are too demanding concerning frequency of follow-up or if asthmatic children should be stratified to different care pathways.
PMCID: PMC2440738  PMID: 18549494

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