Continuity of care: influence of general practitioners' knowledge about their patients on use of resources in consultations.BMJ 1991; 303 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.303.6811.1181 (Published 09 November 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:1181
OBJECTIVE--To examine the relation between general practitioners' knowledge about their patients and the use of resources in consultations. DESIGN--A cross sectional evaluation of consultations. SETTING AND SUBJECTS--A representative sample of 133 Norwegian general practitioners were each asked to record 30 consecutive consultations. 131 did so, and of 3990 possible registrations, 3918 (98%) were evaluated. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--The influence, as assessed by the doctor, of accumulated knowledge on the use of laboratory tests, expectant management, prescriptions, sickness certification, referrals, and time spent in the consultation. RESULTS--Accumulated knowledge was a substantial factor in saving time, especially in consultations with children, the elderly, patients with psychosocial problems, and those with chronic diseases. It also influenced the overall use of laboratory tests, expectant management, sickness certification, and referrals, and to a lesser degree the use of medication. CONCLUSION--The findings imply strong but complex associations between accumulated knowledge and the use of resources in the consultation.