A feasible method to study the Danish out-of-hours primary care service

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INTRODUCTION: 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.
RESULTS: 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.
CONCLUSION: 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDanish Medical Journal
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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