Research Article

Explaining outputs of primary health care: population and practice factors.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.303.6796.225 (Published 27 July 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:225
  1. D Baker,
  2. R Klein
  1. Centre for Analysis of Social Policy, School of Social Sciences, University of Bath.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE--To examine whether variations in the activities of general practice among family health service authorities can be explained by the populations characteristics and the organisation and resourcing of general practice. DESIGN--The family health services authorities were treated as discrete primary health care systems. Nineteen performance indicators reflecting the size, distribution, and characteristics of the population served; the organisation of general practice (inputs); and the activities generated by general practitioners and their staff (output) were analysed by stepwise regression. SETTING--90 family health services authorities in England. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Rates of cervical smear testing, immunisation, prescribing, and night visiting. RESULTS--53% of the variation in uptake of cervical cytology was accounted for by Jarman score (t = -3.3), list inflation (-0.41), the proportion of practitioners over 65 (-0.64), the number of ancillary staff per practitioner (2.5), and 70% of the variation in immunisation rates by standardised mortality ratios (-6.6), the proportion of practitioners aged over 65 (-4.8), and the number of practice nurses per practitioner (3.5). Standardised mortality ratios (8.4), the number of practitioners (2.3), and the proportion over 65 (2.2), and the number of ancillary staff per practitioner (-3.1) accounted for 69% of variation in prescribing rates. 54% of the variation in night visiting was explained by standardised mortality ratios (7.1), the proportion of practitioners with lists sizes below 1000 (-2.2), the proportion aged over 65 (-0.4), and the number of practice nurses per practitioner (-2.5). CONCLUSIONS--Family health services authorities are appropriate systems for studying output of general practice. Their performance indicators need to be refined and to be linked to other relevant factors, notably the performance of hospital, community, and social services.