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Variation in children’s consultation behaviour in the Netherlands: a longitudinal study (2001-2005).

Weber, D., Dijk, C. van, Spreeuwenberg, P., Kuyvenhoven, M., Dijk, L. van. Variation in children’s consultation behaviour in the Netherlands: a longitudinal study (2001-2005). European Journal of Public Health: 2009, 19(suppl. 1) 14. Abstract. 17th European Public Health Conference 'Human Ecology and Public Health', 25–28 November 2009, Lodz (Polen).
Background: Previous research found that families vary in consultation behaviour for minor ailments, but less for other complaints. However, these studies covered a period of maximal one year. Our study aims to disentangle the variance in children’s consultation rates over a five-year period. Moreover, its aim is to study what family factors influence children’s consultation behaviour. Methods: We used data from routine electronic medical records from 45 representative general practices in the Netherlands. Eleventhousand children aged 1–12 years at study onset in 2001 were
included. For these children five year of registration data were available as well as information on children’s and family characteristics at baseline. Results: Most variation in consultation behaviour for minor ailments can be found at the family level (44%; 39% at the child level), while for other complaints variation at the family level was only 5.4%. Important family characteristics explaining consultation for minor ailments include: parental consultation behaviour, mother’s age and parents’ self-perceived health status. Conclusion: This longitudinal analysis shows even a larger amount of variation at the family level for children’s minor ailment consultations. If a child presents minor ailments in general practice, GPs should consider the family context to optimize their policy towards these complaints.