The primary care out-of-hours (OOH) service is of considerable importance; it is the main provider of freely accessible medical advice outside daytime hours, and it covers 75% of the active time in the healthcare system. Although the OOH handles three million contacts annually, only little is known about the reasons for encounter, the performed clinical work and the patient perspectives.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
During a one-year period (2010-2011), data on patient contacts were collected using pop-up questionnaires integrated into the existing IT system. The questions explored the contents and characteristics of patient contacts. A paper-based questionnaire was sent to the included patients.
Of all 700 general practitioners (GP) on duty, 383 (54.7%) participated at least once, and the participating GPs were representative of all GPs. In total, 21,457 contacts were registered; and the distribution of patient, contact and GP characteristics in OOH contacts was similar to the background contacts. Telephone consultations were most often offered to children and home visits primarily to elderly patients. The patient response rate was 51.2%. Females comprised the majority of the included contacts and of the respondents in the patient survey.
The method was highly feasible for generating a representative sample of contacts to OOH services. The project has formed a substantial and valid basis for further studies and future research in the OOH service.
Financed by the Central Denmark Region, the Danish National Research Foundation for Primary Care and the Health Foundation.
CORRESPONDENCE: Lone Flarup. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Disclosure forms provided by the authors are available with the full text of this article at www.danmedj.dk
REFERENCE: Dan Med J 2014;61(5):A4847