Questionnaire study of the association between patient numbers and regular visiting by general practitioners in care homes.
Evans G., Evans JG., Lasserson DS.
BACKGROUND: regular visiting in care homes enables proactive care. Surveys of managers found variation in medical care yet little is known about factors influencing general practitioners (GPs) visiting patterns. We examined whether practice factors including numbers of registered patients are associated with regular visiting. DESIGN AND SETTING: postal questionnaires sent to 73 care homes of European Care Group and separate questionnaires to visiting practices. METHODS: information on regularity of visiting was requested from homes and practices. Practices were asked for numbers of doctors and training status. As data were not normally distributed, non-parametric tests were used to compare practices regularly visiting with those visiting only on request in terms of numbers of registered care home patients. RESULTS: forty-seven (64%) of homes responded, with care provided for 1,867 patients by 162 practices. Practices visiting regularly had significantly more patients than practices that did not [median (IQR) 32 (28) versus 3 (5), P < 0.001]. Ninety-five (31%) of practices responded showing a similar association of registrations with regular visiting [median (IQR) 20 (37) versus 4 (4), P < 0.001]. There was no association between numbers of doctors or training status on regular visiting. CONCLUSION: the number of registered patients is strongly associated with regular care home visiting. Aligning practices with care homes thereby increasing registered patients per practice could encourage proactive care.