Differences in medical services in Nordic general practice: a comparative survey from the QUALICOPC study

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2017 Jun;35(2):153-161. doi: 10.1080/02813432.2017.1333323.


Objective: We aim to describe medical services provided by Nordic general practitioners (GPs), and to explore possible differences between the countries.

Design and setting: We did a comparative analysis of selected data from the Nordic part of the study Quality and Costs of Primary Care in Europe (QUALICOPC).

Subjects: A total of 875 Nordic GPs (198 Norwegian, 80 Icelandic, 97 Swedish, 212 Danish and 288 Finnish) answered identical questionnaires regarding their practices.

Main outcome measures: The GPs indicated which equipment they used in practice, which procedures that were carried out, and to what extent they were involved in treatment/follow-up of a selection of diagnoses.

Results: The Danish GPs performed minor surgical procedures significantly less frequent than GPs in all other countries, although they inserted IUDs significantly more often than GPs in Iceland, Sweden and Finland. Finnish GPs performed a majority of the medical procedures more frequently than GPs in the other countries. The GPs in Iceland reported involvement in a more narrow selection of conditions than the GPs in the other countries. The Finnish GPs had more advanced technical equipment than GPs in all other Nordic countries.

Conclusions: GPs in all Nordic countries are well equipped and offer a wide range of medical services, yet with a substantial variation between countries. There was no clear pattern of GPs in one country doing consistently more procedures, having consistently more equipment and treating a larger diversity of medical conditions than GPs in the other countries. However, structural factors seemed to affect the services offered.

Keywords: General practice; Nordic countries; Organisation and Administration; QUALICOPC; diagnosis; equipment; health services; procedures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Delivery of Health Care* / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care* / standards
  • Equipment and Supplies / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice* / economics
  • Family Practice* / standards
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minor Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries

Grant support

The study was conducted as part of the European QUALICOPC project. QUALICOPC was co-funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement 242141. TBE received funding from The Norwegian Committee on Research in General Practice and the Norwegian Research Fund for General Practice.