The match between need and use of health services among healthy under-fives in Denmark: A register-based national cohort study

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Objectives To study a potential positive association (referred to as 'a match') between the need for health service (expressed by a mortality risk score) and observed health service utilisation among healthy Danish under-fives. Further, municipal differences in the match were examined to motivate focused comparisons between the organisation of regional health services. Design Register-based national cohort study. Participants The population of 1,246,599 Danish children born 1997-2016 who survived until date of first discharge to the home after birth without a diagnosis of severe chronic disease. Main outcome measures Hazard ratios (HR) for a doubling of the mortality rate were calculated for the following health services: Total contacts, inpatient contacts (admission > 1 day), outpatient contacts, general practitioner contacts, specialist contacts, medication use, and vaccinations. Results The use of total contacts, inpatient contacts (> 1 day) and general practitioner contacts as well as medication matched with the mortality risk score, HRs between 1.027 (1.026 to 1.028) and 1.111 (1.108 to 1.113), whereas outpatient and specialist contacts as well as vaccinations did not, HRs between 0.913 (0.912 to 0.915) and 0.991 (0.991 to 0.991). There were some remarkable differences among the 98 Danish municipalities. Conclusions We found some match between need and use for total contacts, inpatient contacts (> 1 day), contacts with general practitioner, and medication use although the associations were relatively weak. For outpatient and specialist contacts, the mismatch may be related to services not addressing potentially fatal disease whereas for vaccination there was a small mismatch. Our results indicate local discrepancies in diagnosis, and a low adjusted utilisation of hospital admissions in Aarhus compared to the other three major cities in Denmark suggests that a comparison of the organisation of services could be useful.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0231776
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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