Objective: To inventory the ethnic composition of the patients referred to an internal medicine outpatient clinic of a Dutch academic hospital and to determine to what extent ethnic minorities differ from Dutch patients in terms of referral reasons, taking relevant background characteristics into account.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis.
Method: Data were collected on all new patients referred in 1997 for the first time to the internal medicine outpatient clinic of the Academic Hospital Dijkzigt, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, using the hospital information system (n = 3205). Patients were categorised into ethnic groups based on country of birth or name. Ethnic differences in referral reasons were tested for the 4 largest ethnic groups by means of logistic regression analysis with adjustment for age, sex, mean income of the zipcode area of the patients' residence and type of health insurance.
Results: The percentage of ethnic minorities amongst all referred patients was 22% (696/3205). The percentage of ethnic minorities among the patients referred from the catchment area of the outpatient clinic was 48% (209/440). Compared with Dutch patients Turkish patients were referred more often with stomach ache (odds ratio (OR): 4.26) and joint problems (OR: 7.16) as reasons. Moroccans were more often referred with stomach ache (OR: 4.10) and diabetes (OR: 4.51). Ethnic minorities were referred less often with dyslipidemia (Turks: OR: 0.11; Surinamese: OR: 0.17; Moroccans: 0 patients).