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Use of health care services after stroke.
  1. R de Haan,
  2. M Limburg,
  3. J van der Meulen,
  4. G A van den Bos
  1. Department of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Amsterdam.


    OBJECTIVES--To describe the use of care before and after stroke and to evaluate equity in access to health care services after stroke. DESIGN--Cross sectional study. SETTING--The Netherlands. PATIENTS--382 patients living in the community who had been admitted to hospital with a stroke six months before. MAIN MEASURES--Sociodemographic status and functional health status according to The Barthel index, Rankin scale, and sickness impact profile, assessed during interview, and general practitioner (GP) characteristics obtained by postal questionnaire. Univariate and multivariate analyses of the relation between patient and GP related factors and use of care. RESULTS--Compared with the period before stroke the use of care six months after stroke increased significantly, especially use of physical therapy, home help, and aids. Multivariate analyses showed that impaired functional health increased the use of care (range in odds ratios 1.6 to 6.7). Compared with younger patients, elderly patients were more likely to have home help (odds ratio 2.9) and aids (2.4) but less likely to receive therapy (0.4), psychosocial support (0.5), and an appreciable amount of care (0.5). Being female (1.7), living alone (4.0), and whether the GP was informed about patients' discharge (2.2) increased the use of home help. Higher financial income (2.8) and having a male GP (3.2) contributed to use of therapy. Emotional distress (1.6), living protected (3.2), and living alone (1.7) accounted for psychosocial support. CONCLUSIONS--Although older age, lower income, and poor discharge information to the GP decreased the use of some types of care, there is equity in access to care after stroke, primarily determined by needs in terms of functional health status and predisposing factors such as living arrangement and social circumstances. IMPLICATIONS--Patient oriented studies focusing on care processes and care outcomes in terms of subjective needs, perceived care deficits, and satisfaction with care are still required.

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