Determinants of health care utilization--visits and referrals

Scand J Soc Med. 1993 Mar;21(1):40-50. doi: 10.1177/140349489302100107.


This study explores determinants of I) general practitioner (GP) visits and II) referrals (outpatient and hospitalization). The analyses were performed with regression models on a set of data from a comprehensive population study of 3533 men and 3578 women aged 40-42 in a county in Northern Norway. Among the various health status dimensions included, self-rated health was found to be the most important determinant, regardless of type of service. Factors, other than health status aspects affecting GP visits, were preoccupation with health and help seeking attitude. Volume of resources (GP per population), socio-demographic characteristics and social networks did not appear as important. Several inequitable effects were revealed on referrals: First, higher rate of referral of patients with higher educational achievement indicates a bias towards higher social status groups. Second, high GP/population ratio and residence in municipalities with referral care facilities were both found to be associated with higher probability of referral.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sick Role