Cancer patients’ use of primary care out-of-hours services: a cross-sectional study in Norway
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Objective: To investigate how cancer patients in Norway use primary care out-of-hours (OOH) services and describe different contact types and procedures.
Design: A retrospective cross-sectional registry study using a billing registry data source.
Setting: Norwegian primary care OOH services in 2014.
Subjects: All patients’ contacts in OOH services in 2014. Cancer patients were identified by ICPC-2 diagnosis.
Main outcome measures: Frequency of cancer patients’ contacts with OOH services, contact types, diagnoses, procedures, and socio-demographic characteristics.
Results: In total, 5752 cancer patients had 20,220 contacts (1% of all) in OOH services. Half of the contacts were cancer related. Cancer in the digestive (22.9%) and respiratory (18.0%) systems were most frequent; and infection/fever (21.8%) and pain (13.6%) most frequent additional diagnoses. A total of 4170 patients had at least one cancer-related direct contact; of these, 64.5% had only one contact during the year. Cancer patients had more home visits and more physicians’ contact with municipal nursing services than other patients, but fewer consultations (p < 0.001). Patients in the least central municipalities had significantly more contacts than more central municipalities (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: There was no indication of overuse of OOH services by cancer patients in Norway, which could indicate good quality of cancer care in general.