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J Community Health. 1978 Summer;3(4):306-20.

The effect of outreach workers' services on the medical care utilization of a disadvantaged population.


An original goal of the Kaiser-Permanente Neighborhood Health Center Project was to organize the project so that a medically indigent population would be able to utilize fully and appropriately the services of a complex medical care program. A special program of outreach services was designed as the principal means to achieve this goal. This study was made to determine the effects of these outreach services on (1) the use of or nonuse of ambulatory care services; (2) the volume and type of services used; (3) the patterns of use; and (4) the appointment-keeping behavior of the project population for a 12-month period. Outreach and medical care services were provided to an average of 7,000 persons in 1,500 low-income families who were enrolled as health plan members in the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Care Program. Project participants were randomly divided into two groups, one with and one without services, and utilization data were collected from their medical and administrative records. The findings suggest that outreach intervention had a positive effect on access to care. Persons who received outreach services were more likely to contact the medical care system; these persons also showed a substantial difference in the volume of services they used, when compared to those without outreach services. Outreach workers were less successful in changing utilization patterns, although slight differences were found in the direction of more appropriate use. Persons with outreach services were more likely to have made contacts with their regular physician, to have made a smaller proportion of walk-in contacts, to have had a higher proportion of regularly scheduled contacts, and to have made a higher proportion of continuing visits. Outreach workers also had little or no effect on appointment-keeping behavior.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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