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J Am Board Fam Med. 2013 Jul-Aug;26(4):373-9. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2013.04.120185.

Follow-up after telephone consultations at out-of-hours primary care.

Author information

  • 1the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. L.Huibers@iq.umcn.nl



After a contact with a primary care physician (PCP) cooperative for out-of-hours care, many patients have subsequent contact with health care. Little is known about the factors associated with these follow-up contacts. The objective of this study was to examine whether patient experiences with nurse telephone consultations and the cooperative's organizational characteristics were associated with the probability of follow-up contact.


We conducted a cross-sectional study of patients attending 16 Dutch PCP cooperatives (2009 to 2011) using a validated questionnaire to measure patient experiences with nurse telephone consultations and patient-reported follow-up. Participating cooperatives provided information on 12 organizational characteristics. Multilevel regression modeling was used to identify associations.


A total of 7039 patients returned a questionnaire (50.4%), of which 5678 were complete. About half of patients reported a follow-up contact (47%). Regression analyses showed increasing probability of follow-up contact in patients with higher age (≥65 years; odds ratio [OR], 2.39), patients receiving a home visit (OR, 1.32), and cooperatives with a higher percentage of telephone consultations (OR, 1.02) and a decreased probability among patients with more positive experiences with a nurse via telephone contact (OR, 0.68).


Although follow-up contacts can be medically required, a substantial number of contacts seem to be not required and thus are potentially avoidable (eg, by changes in work routine and communication).


Out-of-Hours Medical Care; Patient Satisfaction; Primary Health Care; Telemedicine; Triage; Utilization

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