Objective: To assess physician service use in a large sample of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc), and to determine factors associated with physician use.
Methods: Our sample was a national SSc registry maintaining data on demographics (age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income) and clinical factors (disease onset, organ involvement, etc.). Registry cohort members completed detailed questionnaires, and rheumatologists provided clinical assessments. We examined cross-sectional data from 397 patients who provided information on physician visits in the past 12 months. Patients were classified as high physician-users if they reported more than the median number (6) of physician visits in the past year. In multivariate logistic regressions, we assessed the independent effects of race/ethnicity, education, degree of skin involvement, comorbidity, and SF-36 scores on physician use.
Results: On average, subjects reported 3.8 visits per year to specialty physicians (SD 4.2) and 3.5 visits per year to family physicians (SD 4.3). Regression models suggested the following factors as independently associated with number of physician visits: high skin scores, greater comorbidity, and low physical component summary scores on the SF-36.
Conclusion: There is evidence of independent relationships between clinical characteristics and physician use by patients with SSc.