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Arch Hellen Med, 33(1), January-February 2016, 84-89


Use of primary health care services in Southern Greece during a period of economic crisis

A.E. Patelarou,1 C.F. Kleisiaris,1 E. Androulakis,2 D.K. Tsirakos,1 G. Kritsotakis,1 T.Ι. Konstantinidis,1 Z. Androulaki1
1Department of Nursing, School of Health and Welfare Services, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Heraklion, Crete
2National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE Data are limited regarding the frequency of use of primary health care (PHC) services in Greece and the reasons given for its use. The study aimed to investigate the most frequent reasons for seeking emergency help in PHC centers (PHCC) in rural areas of Greece and factors that may act as determinants of their use.

METHOD A random sample of 5 PHCCs serving rural areas of Crete was selected. Data collection was performed retrospectively from the medical records for the years 2010 to 2013. The International Classification of Primary Care was used to classify presenting symptoms into broader disease categories based on the information available. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Cretan Health Region.

RESULTS Symptoms related to the respiratory system (21.3%) and the musculoskeletal system (17.6%) were the most frequent reasons for seeking for emergency health care. Other high frequency reasons were digestive symptoms and skin related symptoms. Significant differences were identified in the distribution of the main symptomatology and related diseases according to age and sex. Spatial and temporal variations were observed, particularly for occupational and road traffic accidents. The high increase observed between 2010 and 2013 in the numbers of people who visited PHCCs because of neuropsychiatric symptoms raises the issue of the impact of the economic crisis on mental health.

CONCLUSIONS Deeper understanding of the epidemiological profile of users of primary healthcare facilities is recommended. There is an urgent need for the adaptation of the electronic health records to facilitate monitoring of use of services.

Key words: Diseases, Electronic records, Primary health care, Service utilization.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine