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J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2004;79(5-6):333-61.

Statistical analysis of referrals by general practitioner at Health Insurance Organization clinics in Alexandria.

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  • 1Biostatistics Department, High Institute of Public Health.


Referral of patients generates significant economic costs for both physician fees and diagnostic tests. Variation in referral rates between general practices and between individual GPs has long been the focus of attention for policy makers. The present study aimed to analyze the referrals by General Practitioners (GP) at Health Insurance Organization (HIO) clinics in Alexandria. The study was conducted at 18 Health Insurance Organization (HIO) comprehensive clinics in Alexandria, distributed in the 6 districts of Alexandria HIO. Retrospective analysis of records and cross sectional interview to 180 GPs were carried out. Male GPs comprised 82.2% of the sample. On the average, GPs received 6.6 +/- 4.5 patients per working hour. Over the year 2002, 8.4% of consultations were referred to specialists, 5.4% referred to laboratory and only 0.09% were referred to hospital. The highest percent of referrals from GP to specialist were directed to internal medicine followed by orthopedics, general surgery, E.N.T, dermatology, neuropsychiatry, chest then urology clinics. Referral rate from GPs to specialists was found to have a 6.6-fold variation among clinics, and a 54.8-fold variation among individual GPs. Moreover, there was no homogeneity in variations in referral rates of clinics within 3 of the 6 districts. Using multiple regression analysis, the only significant factor was the indirect relation with workload. Comparison of referral rates of GPs with the limits set by HIO (8-17%) revealed that, 48.9% of GPs were within limits, 37.2% were lower and 13.9% were higher than limits. GPs who had diploma or master were average referrers in 51.5%, low referrers in 30.3% and high referrers in 18.2%, compared to 45.6%, 50.6% and only 3.8%, respectively for those with bachelor degree; the difference was statistically significant.

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