Changes in General Practitioners’ consultation frequency over time for patients with hypertension or anxiety/depression symptoms: a 10-year follow-up of the Norwegian HUNT study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonFamily Practice. 2020, 37 (2), 248-254. 10.1093/fampra/cmz070
Background: General Practitioners’ (GPs’) workload has been suggested to increase in many countries; how does this impact patient follow-up? Objective: To investigate trends in GP consultation patterns for adults according to baseline hypertension and anxiety/depression symptoms and attribution of the GP to trend differences. Methods: Prospective cohort study, linking survey data and clinical measurements from the Norwegian HUNT3 study (2006–08) with national administrative data on GP list assignment and consultations with GP services. We grouped participants aged 40–59 years according to sex and their baseline status regarding hypertension and anxiety/depression symptoms. We registered GP consultations in 2007–16 and used general estimation equation models to estimate the level of GP consultations per month per year during follow-up. We used multilevel models with participants nested in their assigned regular GP to calculate GP-level intra-class correlation coefficients, reflecting to what extent patients’ consultation patterns could be attributed to the individual GP. Results: In total, 47 550 HUNT3 participants were registered with 102 different GPs in NordTrøndelag County, Norway, in 2007. Adjusted for age, we observed an overall increase in GP consultations in 2007–16, particularly in those with a better health status at baseline. About 2% of the variance of patient consultations could be attributed to differences between GPs and 10% to the use of lengthy consultations. Out-of-hours consultations did not change much in the study period 2007–16. Conclusion: Increased use of GP consultations, mainly among the healthiest participants, encourage further research into whether these patients displace patients with heavier and more complex needs.