Reasons for encounter and disease patterns in Danish primary care: changes over 16 years

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2012 Jun;30(2):70-5. doi: 10.3109/02813432.2012.679230.


Objective: Approximately 98% of Danish citizens are listed with a general practice which they consult for medical advice. Although 85% of the population contact their general practitioner (GP) every year, little is known about these contacts. The aim of the present paper is to gain updated knowledge about patients' reasons for encounter and the GP activities and to make comparisons with a similar study from 1993.

Methods: All GPs in the Central Denmark Region were invited to register all contacts during one randomly chosen day within a year. The registration included questions about patients' reasons for encounter, the types and contents of the contacts, referrals, and distribution between new episodes and follow-up contacts. Aggregated data were compared with the results from 1993.

Results: A total of 404 (46%) GPs participated. The number of contacts per 1000 inhabitants had risen by 19.7%. The reasons for encounter and final diagnoses resembled those in 1993. Musculoskeletal, psychological, and respiratory problems were the most common reasons for encounter, psychological problems being the only type to increase over the period. Interestingly, the proportion of diagnoses within the ICPC 'A' chapter rose from 13.5 to 19.7%. The referral rate rose by 2% (relative: 18.7%) from 10.7% to 12.7% and the share of follow-up contacts rose from 45.9% to 50.4% (relative: 8.7%).

Conclusion: Quite small changes were seen in the patterns of reasons for encounter and diagnoses from 1993 to 2009. However, an increase was found in contacts with general practice and referrals and in the proportion of follow-ups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / trends*