Factors associated with the use of primary care services: the role of practice nurses

Vallejo-Torres, Laura; Morris, Stephen
August 2011
European Journal of Health Economics;Aug2011, Vol. 12 Issue 4, p373
Academic Journal
Rising demand for and costs of health care have led to an increasing role of practice nurses in primary care in many countries, including the United Kingdom. Previous research has explored how practice nurse care differs from that provided by general practitioners (GPs) in terms of costs and health outcomes, and has highlighted the importance of matching skills and experience with roles and responsibilities. However, there has been little research to compare the characteristics of patients seen by GPs and practice nurses in primary care. We aim to investigate the factors associated with the use of practice nurse visits, and to compare these with the factors associated with GP use. We jointly model the use of practice nurse and GP visits using a bivariate probit regression model with a large set of covariates taken from two rounds of the Health Survey for England (2001, 2002). We find that practice nurse use is associated with age and gender, health, socioeconomic and supply variables. There are differences in the factors associated with practice nurse and GP use. Chronically ill patients are more likely to see a practice nurse, while acute ill health has a stronger association with the probability of seeing the GP. Practice nurse use is also correlated with a narrower range of health conditions compared with GP use. We also found differences between practice nurse and GP visits with respect to the association with economic activity, ethnic group, number of children, degree of urbanisation, and distance to practice.


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