Frequent attendance in primary care in the oldest old: evidence from the AgeCoDe-AgeQualiDe study

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2020 Dec;32(12):2629-2638. doi: 10.1007/s40520-020-01495-2. Epub 2020 Feb 27.


Background: There are very few studies examining the determinants of frequent attendance in primary care among the oldest old.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics of frequent attendance among individuals aged 85 years or older.

Methods: Cross-sectional data stem from the multicenter prospective cohort "Study on needs, health service use, costs and health-related quality of life in a large sample of oldest old primary care patients (85 +)" (AgeQualiDe). This study covers very old primary care patients (n = 861, mean age of 89.0 years ± 2.9; 85-100 years). The number of self-reported GP visits in the preceding 3 months was used to quantify frequent attenders. We defined patients in the top decile as frequent attenders.

Results: Multiple logistic regressions showed that frequent attendance was associated with more chronic diseases (adjusted OR 1.12, 95% CI 1.01-1.23), worse functioning (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.95-0.99), worries about one's financial situation (OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.07-4.53) and it was inversely associated with depression (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.08-0.80).

Discussion: In contrast to studies based on younger samples, different factors were associated with frequent users in our study, showing that it is important to study the determinants of frequent attendance among the oldest old.

Conclusion: In Germany, among the group of the oldest old, frequent attendance was positively associated with worse physical health status (e.g., number of chronic diseases), but negatively with depression. This might indicate that the German health care system is responsive to the physical, but not psychological needs of the oldest old.

Keywords: Aged 80 and over; General practitioners; Health care utilization; Health services needs and demand; Primary health care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*

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