Patients suffering from psychotic disorders have an increased risk of comorbid somatic diseases such as cardiovascular disorders and diabetes mellitus. Doctor-related factors, such as unfamiliarity with these patients, as well as patient-related factors, such as cognitive disturbance and negative symptoms, contribute to suboptimal health care for these patients.
General practitioners (GPs) could play a key role in diagnosing and treating this somatic comorbidity as in the Netherlands, almost all residents are registered at a general practice. This study aims to find out whether there are any differences between the levels of health care provided by GPs to patients with psychotic disorders, compared to other types of patients.
A cohort of patients with an ICPC code of psychosis and two matched control groups, one consisting of patients with other mental problems and the other one of patients without any mental problems, were followed over a period of 5 years.
Patients with psychotic disorders (N = 734) contacted the GP practice more often than patients in the control groups. These patients, both adults (p = 0.051) and the elderly (p < 0.005), received more home visits from their GPs. In the adult group (16 to 65 years old inclusive), the number of consultations was significantly higher among both psychosis patients and the group of patients with other mental problems (p < 0.0005). The number of telephone consultations was significantly higher in both age categories, adult group (p < 0.0005), and > 65 years old (p = 0.007). With regard to chronic illnesses, elderly psychosis patients had fewer contacts related to cardiovascular diseases or chronic lung diseases.
Patients with psychotic disorders contact the GP practice more frequently than other types of patients. Adult psychosis patients with diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases or chronic lung diseases receive the same amount of health care for these diseases as other primary care patients. The finding that older patients with psychotic disorders are diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases and obstructive lung diseases less frequently than other types of elderly patients requires further study.