Demographic and socioeconomic patterns in healthcare-seeking behaviour for respiratory symptoms in England: A comparison with non-respiratory symptoms and between three healthcare services
Morrison KE., Colón-González FJ., Morbey RA., Hunter PR., Rutter J., Stuttard G., De Lusignan S., Yeates A., Pebody R., Smith G., Elliot AJ., Lake IR.
Objective This study will analyse respiratory contacts to three healthcare services that capture more of the community disease burden than acute data sources, such as hospitalisations. The objective is to explore associations between contacts to these services and the patient's age, gender and deprivation. Results will be compared between healthcare services, and with non-respiratory contacts to explore how contacts differ by service and illness. It is crucial to investigate the sociodemographic patterns in healthcare-seeking behaviour to enable targeted public health interventions. Design Ecological study. Setting Surveillance of respiratory contacts to three healthcare services in England: telehealth helpline (NHS111); general practitioner in-hours (GPIH); and general practitioner out of hours unscheduled care (GPOOH). Participants 13 million respiratory contacts to NHS111, GPIH and GPOOH. Outcome measures Respiratory contacts to NHS111, GPIH and GPOOH, and non-respiratory contacts to NHS111 and GPOOH. Results More respiratory contacts were observed for females, with 1.59, 1.73, and 1.95 times the rate of contacts to NHS111, GPOOH and GPIH, respectively. When compared with 15-44 year olds, there were 37.32, 18.66 and 6.21 times the rate of respiratory contacts to NHS111, GPOOH and GPIH in children <1 year. There were 1.75 and 2.70 times the rate of respiratory contacts in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived to NHS111 and GPOOH. Elevated respiratory contacts were observed for males <5 years compared with females <5 years. Healthcare-seeking behaviours between respiratory and non-respiratory contacts were similar. Conclusion When contacts to services that capture more of the disease burden are explored, the demographic patterns are similar to those described in the literature for acute systems. Comparable results were observed between respiratory and non-respiratory contacts suggesting that when a wider spectrum of disease is explored, sociodemographic factors may be the strongest influencers of healthcare-seeking behaviour.