Parents, infants and health care: Utilization of health services in the first 12 months of life
Article first published online: 27 MAY 2003
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Volume 39, Issue 4, pages 249–253, May 2003
How to Cite
Goldfeld, S., Wright, M. and Oberklaid, F. (2003), Parents, infants and health care: Utilization of health services in the first 12 months of life. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 39: 249–253. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.2003.00146.x
- Issue published online: 27 MAY 2003
- Article first published online: 27 MAY 2003
- Accepted for publication 14 October 2002.
- health care;
- health-services research;
Objective: To describe patterns of health-service use in the first 12 months of life.
Methods: In this prospective cohort study, 173 first-born infants and their families living in two middle socio-economic urban areas of Melbourne were enrolled consecutively when presenting for their initial maternal and child health nurse (MCHN) visit (at approximately 4 weeks of age). Families kept a daily ‘health diary’ for the entire 12-month period, recording use of all health services for their infant, and reasons for the contact.
Results: There was an 87% completion rate of diaries. The mean number of visits to any health service, including medical, hospitals, MCHN services, pharmacists, allied health services and naturopaths, was 35.7 (95% CI 34.7−36.6) during the 12 months. Of these, 31% (mean 10.9 visits) were visits to a general practitioner (GP) and 41.5% (mean 14.3 visits) were visits to the MCHN. Infants’ visits to the MCHN were far more frequent in the first 6 months of life compared with the second 6 months (10.3 vs 3.6, P < 0.001). Rates of GP use were constant over the same periods (5.3 vs 5.7, P = 0.8).
Conclusions: In a universal health-care system, this high rate of health-service use equates to approximately one visit to a health service every 2 weeks in the first year of life. The majority of these visits appeared unrelated to illness. This previously undocumented data has implications for future integrated service delivery, health-professional training and policy development for this age group.