Vol. 150 No. 1920 (2020)
The ecology of medical care in Switzerland: prevalence of illness in the community and healthcare utilisation in Switzerland
- Stéphanie Giezendanner
- Wiebke Bretschneider
- Roland Fischer
- Laura Diaz Hernandez
- Andreas Zeller
The allocation and equal distribution of healthcare resources is one of the major challenges of today. Therefore, a framework to analyse the prevalence of illness in the community and the use of various sources of healthcare is crucial. The aim of the study was to evaluate the health-seeking behaviour of 1025 individuals in Switzerland in a 2-month period in 2018.
Population-based, cross-sectional health survey with a multistage, stratified cluster design. The LINK Institute interviewed a representative sample of the adult Swiss population (age ≥18 years, stratified by language region: German-, French- and Italian-speaking, 70, 25 and 5%, respectively) by telephone. There were two interview rounds to account for potential seasonal variations, in May (n = 506) and November 2018 (n = 516). The health-seeking behaviour of these individuals during the previous 2 months was analysed.
In total, data of 1025 individuals were analysed: 51% females, median age 52 years (range 18−85). During the preceding 2 months, per 1000 adults, 546 had at least one symptom, 184 reported several symptoms, 243 sought medical advice, 164 first contacted their general practitioner, 81 directly contacted a specialist in a private practice, 16 were self-admitted to an accident and emergency department, 17 firstly contacted a pharmacy and 6 contacted an alternative medicine healthcare provider. In total, 21 persons were admitted to a hospital, of whom 8 underwent surgical procedures, 18 were at first transferred to a regular ward and 3 required intensive care unit services. Because of their current health problem, 387 individuals took medication and 259 bought their medication themselves. The vast majority (95%) of subjects was registered with a general practitioner.
This study represented an attempt to map the healthcare utilisation of the Swiss population. These results may be useful for further delineation of healthcare policies and medical education to meet the demand and needs of people in Switzerland. They indicate that general practitioners are the most important healthcare resource in Switzerland. Compared with specialists, they provide twice as much health advice at less costs. To optimise the health care system in Switzerland, we suggest to allocate resources where they are most needed.
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