Identifying patterns of general practitioner service utilisation and their relationship with potentially preventable hospitalisations in people with diabetes: The utility of a cluster analysis approach
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Aims: We aimed to characterise use of general practitioners (GP) simultaneously across multiple attributes in people with diabetes and examine its impact on diabetes related potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPHs). Methods: Five-years of panel data from 40,625 adults with diabetes were sourced from Western Australian administrative health records. Cluster analysis (CA) was used to group individuals with similar patterns of GP utilisation characterised by frequency and recency of services. The relationship between GP utilisation cluster and the risk of PPHs was examined using multivariable random-effects negative binomial regression. Results: CA categorised GP utilisation into three clusters: moderate; high and very high usage, having distinct patient characteristics. After adjusting for potential confounders, the rate of PPHs was significantly lower across all GP usage clusters compared with those with no GP usage; IRR = 0.67 (95%CI: 0.62–0.71) among the moderate, IRR = 0.70 (95%CI 0.66–0.73) high and IRR = 0.76 (95%CI 0.72–0.80) very high GP usage clusters. Conclusions: Combination of temporal factors with measures of frequency of use of GP services revealed patterns of primary health care utilisation associated with different underlying patient characteristics. Incorporation of multiple attributes, that go beyond frequency-based approaches may better characterise the complex relationship between use of GP services and diabetes-related hospitalisation.
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