Background: In planning a prevention programme, it is important to know to what extent gender, risk behaviour and GP consultation need to be taken into account.
Objective: To determine whether gender plays a role in the relation between risk behaviour and use of GP services.
Methods: The data used in this study originate from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice of 2000-02. We used respondent interviews in three age groups: 555 respondents aged 18-22; 1005 respondents aged 45-49; and 536 respondents aged 70-74. We studied smoking, alcohol abuse, excessive alcohol intake, use of soft drugs, overweight and insufficient physical exercise in relation to use of primary care and gender.
Results: Almost all risk behaviours were more prevalent in men. Of all studied risk behaviours, only smoking was related to yearly GP contact and consultation frequency in relation to gender. Smoking men consulted their GP significantly less frequently than non-smoking men, whereas in women, the opposite was the case.
Conclusions: Both rates of consultation and yearly contact were significantly lower in smoking men than in smoking women. Preventive actions by means of case-finding, therefore, are less attainable in men than in women. This outcome may create a double setback for Dutch men, as smoking is a major cause of lower life expectancy in men. Recent data show that under-representation of men among consulters in general practice and excess of smoking men still exist in the Netherlands. This confirms the actual relevance of our findings although these were obtained 10years ago.