Objective: This paper describes the characteristics of Belgian people who declare that they have a personal GP (PGP) compared with those who do not. Furthermore, patterns of cardiovascular prevention and care are described for these two groups.
Methods: The data are derived from the 1997 Belgian Health Interview Survey (HIS) in which a representative sample (n = 10 221) of the Belgian population was questioned. The HIS data about physical activity, food, blood pressure, cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and stroke are analysed.
Results: After standardization for age and gender, 7.0% of the subjects declared that they did not have a PGP. The mean age of patients without a PGP (33.2 +/- 20.4 years) is significantly lower than for those with a PGP (40.4 +/- 22.7 years) (P < 0.001). More smokers (38.5% compared with 28.5%) were reported among the subjects without a PGP (P < 0.001). For 14.8% of the subjects without a PGP, their blood pressure had never been measured, and for 51.1% their cholesterol had never been measured (6.7% and 35.7%, respectively in subjects with a PGP). Among the subjects without a PGP, 3.8% had high blood pressure and 1.5% had a coronary heart disease. Among the hypertensive patients without a PGP, 43.6% are not treated by any physician.
Conclusion: Subjects without a PGP were less likely to have a healthy way of life. Having a PGP seemed to have a beneficial influence on the screening for and the follow-up of cardiovascular risk factors. However, it has never been confirmed that providing people who do not have a PGP with one would result in health improvements. In particular, cardiac patients without a PGP sought their medical treatment directly from specialists.