Continuity in general practice and hospitalization patterns: an observational study
SourceBMC Family Practice, 22, 1, (2021), article 21
Article / Letter to editor
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BMC Family Practice
SubjectRadboudumc 16: Vascular damage RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: High continuity of care is a key feature of strong general practice. This study aimed to assess the effect of a programme for enhancing strong general practice care on the continuity of care in Germany. The second aim was to assess the effect of continuity of care on hospitalization patterns. METHODS: We performed an observational study in Germany, involving patients who received a strong general practice care programme (n=1.037.075) and patients who did not receive this programme (n=723.127) in the year 2017. We extracted data from a health insurance database. The cohorts were compared with respect to three measures of continuity of care (Usual Provider Index, Herfindahl Index, and the Sequential Continuity Index), adjusted for patient characteristics. The effects of continuity in general practice on the rates of hospitalization, rehospitalization, and avoidable hospitalization were examined in multiple regression analyses. RESULTS: Compared to the control cohort, continuity in general practice was higher in patients who received the programme (continuity measures were 12.47 to 23.76% higher, P< 0.0001). Higher continuity of care was independently associated with lowered risk of hospitalization, rehospitalization, and avoidable hospitalization (relative risk reductions between 2.45 and 9.74%, P< 0.0001). Higher age, female sex, higher morbidity (Charlson-index), and home-dwelling status (not nursing home) were associated with higher rates of hospitalization. CONCLUSION: Higher continuity of care may be one of the mechanisms underlying lower hospitalization rates in patients who received strong general practice care, but further research is needed to examine the causality underlying the associations.
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