269 Elderly Patients In Family Practice: Why Do They Consult Their Gp?

Author(s): 
D Paulus 1, L Nguyen Tan 1, D Pestiaux 1
1 UCL - University Centre For General Practice
Text: 
Aim : to analyse the reasons for encounter of the elderly in family practice
Population:
patients older than 64 years who consulted their GP during a five days period.
Methods: Twenty-five GPs collected the data in February 2002. Information on age, gender, socio-economic status (SES) and reasons for encounter (opened questions) were collected. All reasons were coded using the French version of the ICPC classification.
Results: Data on 492 contacts were collected i.e., 899 reasons for encounter. General reasons were the most frequent (28%), in particular check-ups and prescriptions. The following reasons were cardiovascular (blood pressure, anticoagulant blood level ), respiratory (cough), osteoarticular (lower limbs) and digestive complaints (abdominal pain) (13.1%, 13%, 10.5% and 7.9% respectively). Contact rates and reasons for encounter did not differ significantly between genders. The first women's reason for encounter was a check-up while men came for a prescription. The age of the patient did not influence the reason for encounter but SES had an influence. General reasons (31.3%) were more frequent in higher SES patients while cardiovascular reasons (18.6%) were first in lower SES groups. Social and psychological reasons were seldom mentioned.
Conclusion:
this study found that general, cardiovascular, respiratory, osteoarticular and digestive problems were the first reasons for encounter in elderly patients. Differences appeared between patients according their SES status. Few reasons related to non organic problems. The complexity of some cases in older patients implies that the family doctor should take time to listen, to examine and to talk with the elderly to discover any masked complaint.
Literature: 
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ELDERLY PATIENTS IN FAMILY PRACTICE: WHY DO THEY CONSULT THEIR GP?