Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Ethnic differences in consultation rates in urban general practice.

British Medical Journal 1989; 299 doi: (Published 14 October 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;299:953
  1. S. J. Gillam,
  2. B. Jarman,
  3. P. White,
  4. R. Law
  1. Department of General Practice, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Lisson Grove Health Centre, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the patterns of consultations with the general practitioner among different ethnic groups and the outcome of these consultations. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of data from one urban group general practice collected during 1979-81 as part of a research project in seven practices. SETTING--Group general practice in the London borough of Brent with a list size of 10,877 patients in July 1980. SUBJECTS--Patients registered with the practice during the 23 months to April 1981 who accounted for 67,197 consultations. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Ethnic state, sex and social class distribution, and diagnosis of patients consulting and frequency of consultations analysed as standardised consultation ratios and standardised patient consultation ratios. RESULTS--Compared with other ethnic groups male Asians (that is, including those born in Britain and those originating from the Indian subcontinent and east Africa) had a substantially increased standardised patient consultation ratio. Consultation rates for mental disorders--in particular, anxiety and depression--were reduced in all groups of immigrant descent. West Indians consulted more frequently for hypertension and asthma, and their children less frequently with otitis media. Asians consulted more frequently with upper respiratory tract infections and non-specific symptoms. Native British patients were more likely to leave the surgery with a follow up appointment, prescription, or certificate. CONCLUSION--Notwithstanding the limitations of this study, ethnic differences in consultation rates were apparent. These differences require further investigation if the needs of minority ethnic groups are not to be overlooked.