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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


MENDOZA-SASSI, Raúl; BERIA, Jorge U  and  BARROS, Aluísio J D. Outpatient health service utilization and associated factors: a population-based study. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2003, vol.37, n.3, pp.372-378. ISSN 1518-8787.

OBJECTIVE: To identify factors that lead people to visit a doctor in Brazil and assess differences between socioeconomic groups. METHODS: A cross-sectional study comprising 1,260 subjects aged 15 or more was carried out in southern Brazil. Demographic, socioeconomic, health needs and regular source of care data were analyzed concerning visits to a doctor within two months from the interview. Adjusted prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using Poisson regression. RESULTS: Adjusted PR showed that women having stressful life events, health insurance, and a regular doctor increased the outcome. A dose-related response was found with self-reported health, and the probability of visiting a doctor increased with health needs. Analysis in the chronic disease group revealed that uneducated lower income subjects had a 62% reduction in the chance of visiting a doctor compared to uneducated higher income ones. However, as it was seen a significant interaction between income and education, years of schooling increased utilization in this group. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest the existence of health inequity in the poorest group that could be overcome with education. Specific measures reinforcing the importance of having a regular doctor may also improve access in the underserved group.

Keywords : Health services [utilization]; Health services accessibility; Equity in access; Socioeconomic factors.

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