Changes in patients' attitudes towards the management of minor ailments

Mieke Cardol*, François G. Schellevis, Peter Spreeuwenberg, Eloy H. van de Lisdonk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Patients' attitudes towards the management of minor ailments influence help-seeking behaviour. Up-to-date information about patients' attitudes is valuable for understanding changes in help-seeking behaviour. Aim: To describe changes in patients' attitudes between 1987 and 2001, and to explain the relationship between patients' attitudes and attributes of practices, practitioners and patients. Design: Two cross-sectional, Dutch National Surveys of General Practice (1987 and 2001; n = 9579 and n = 8405 patients, respectively). Setting: General practice in the Netherlands. Method: Patients' attitudes were evaluated in health interviews. Data were analysed using multilevel regression analysis. Results: In 2001, patients' attitudes showed a shift away from consulting their GP for minor ailments. Attitudes are uniform across different types of practice, and mainly differ between patients, in 1987 as well as in 2001 the factors associated with firm beliefs about the benefits of GP's care in case of minor ailments were male, older age, lower educational level, a non-Western cultural background, and a visit to the GP in the past 2 months. Furthermore, the association between health status and beliefs about GPs dealing with minor ailments is more marked in 2001. Compared to 1987, the influences of GPs and the practice are more intertwined in 2001. Conclusions: Patients' attitudes towards the management of minor ailments have changed over the years, which implies that strategic action by the profession and the government has affected the way the public uses primary care. However, a marginal group of patients (elderly, less-educated, non-Western) is lagging behind this trend, and continuing to consult GPs for minor ailments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-521
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number516
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2005

Cite this