Are frequent attenders of primary health care distressed?

Scand J Prim Health Care. 1995 Mar;13(1):32-8. doi: 10.3109/02813439508996732.


Objective: To measure the level of distress among frequent attenders of primary health care.

Design: A cross-sectional study.

Setting: Two public primary health care stations in Turku, south-western Finland

Participants: 96 frequent attenders (eleven or more visits to a physician during the previous 12 months) and 466 control patients.

Main outcome measure: SCL-25, GP evaluations, self-reported symptoms and self-experienced need for care.

Results: Frequent attenders were significantly more distressed than other patients in primary care. However, their self-experienced need for psychiatric care was very low and it did not differ from other patients self-experienced need. The GPs estimated that over 1/3 of frequent attenders suffered from mixed (physical and psychiatric) illnesses and over 1/2 from subclinical or clinical psychiatric symptoms. The corresponding proportions for other patients were significantly lower.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Self-Assessment
  • Stress, Physiological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis