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Life events, social support and sense of coherence among frequent attenders in primary health care.

Journal article
Authors Håkan Bergh
Amir Baigi
Bengt Fridlund
Bertil Marklund
Published in Public health
Volume 120
Issue 3
Pages 229-36
ISSN 0033-3506
Publication year 2006
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 229-36
Language en
Keywords frequent attenders, primary health care, life events, social support, sense of coherence
Subject categories Medical and Health Sciences


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this survey was to compare stressful life events, social support and sense of coherence (SOC) between frequent attenders (FAs) and normal attenders (controls) in primary health care. STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a primary healthcare centre in the south-west of Sweden. METHODS: A postal questionnaire was sent to 263 frequent attenders and 703 normal attenders. The questionnaire comprised sociodemographic variables and scales of stressful life events, social support and SOC. The results from the questionnaire were compared between the groups, and the significance of the variables in terms of attendance was tested in a multiple regression analysis. RESULTS: More of the FAs were secondarily single, they had more chronic diseases and were more often living on a sickness/disablement pension than the controls. FAs did not report more stressful life events than the controls nor was their experience of events more negative. Social support was as strong among FAs as among controls, and it had no significant effect on their frequent attendance. FAs had a significantly weaker SOC compared with controls. The variables that significantly influenced frequent attendance were high age [odds ratio (OR) = 1.02], chronic disease (OR = 3.08), sickness/disablement pension (OR = 2.46) and SOC (OR = 0.97). CONCLUSIONS: SOC had a significant influence on frequent attendance in primary health care, but stressful life events and social support did not. FAs did not report more stressful life events. However, due to an inadequate coping strategy, indicated by a weak SOC, the life events probably caused them more symptoms and diseases, and thereby a higher consulting frequency.

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