Is frequent attendance a persistent characteristic of a patient? Repeat studies of attendance pattern at the family practitioner

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2004 Jun;22(2):91-4. doi: 10.1080/02813430410005207.


Objective: To assess the extent of frequent attendance as a persistent characteristic of patients by repeat studies of attendance at a health centre.

Design: A follow-up of frequent attenders and compared patients in 1991 among frequent attenders in 1996.

Setting: Mariehem health centre in Umeå in northern Sweden providing care for 10,500 and 12,000 inhabitants in 1991 and 1996, respectively.

Subjects: Frequent attenders, defined as patients who had at least 5 consultations with physicians during 1 year at the health centre, compared to attenders who had between 1 and 4 consultations in 1991 and 1996.

Results: The proportion of people who lived in the area and consulted a doctor at the health centre at least once during 1 year increased from 40.0% in 1991 to 45.2% in 1996. The number of frequent attenders increased from 179 to 303 and they took 15% and 20% of all consultations in 1991 and 1996, respectively. Twenty-five patients (21 females and 4 males) were identified as frequent attenders in both years.

Conclusion: With the exception of a small group of patients, mostly females, frequent attendance seems not to be a persistent characteristic of patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Sweden