Objective: To study the quantitative consumption in out-of-hours (OOH) primary care in Denmark and the Netherlands, in the context of OOH care services.
Design: A retrospective observational study describing contacts with OOH care services, using registration data.
Setting: OOH care services (i.e. OOH primary care, emergency department, and ambulance care) in one Danish and one Dutch region.
Subjects: All patients contacting the OOH care services in September and October 2011.
Main outcome measures: Consumption as number of contacts per 1000 inhabitants in total and per age group per contact type.
Results: For the two-month period the Danes had 80/1000 contacts with OOH primary care compared with 50/1000 for the Dutch. The number of contacts per 1000 inhabitants per age group varied between the regions, with the largest difference in the 0-5 years age group and a considerable difference in the young-adult groups (20-35 years). The difference was largest for telephone consultations (47/1000 vs. 20/1000), particularly in the youngest age group (154/1000 vs. 39/1000). The Danes also had more home visits than the Dutch (10/1000 vs. 5/1000), while the Dutch had slightly more clinic consultations per 1000 inhabitants than the Danes (25/1000 vs. 23/1000).
Conclusion: The Danish population has more contacts with OOH primary care, particularly telephone consultations, especially concerning young patients. Future research should focus on the relevance of contacts and identification of factors related to consumption in OOH primary care.