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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: This study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between Public Health England, King’s College London and the University of East Anglia. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, Public Health England or the Department of Health and Social Care.
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Publisher Copyright: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Published by BMJ.
Citation: Morrison KE, Colón-González FJ, Morbey RA, et al. Demographic and socioeconomic patterns in healthcare-seeking behaviour for respiratory symptoms in England: a comparison with non-respiratory symptoms and between three healthcare services. BMJ Open 2020;10:e038356.
- respiratory infections
- statistics & research methods