Referral decisions and its predictors related to orthopaedic care. A retrospective study in a novel primary care setting

Esther H. A. van den Bogaart*, Marieke D. Spreeuwenberg, Marielle E. A. L. Kroese, Mark W. van den Boogaart, Tim A. E. J. Boymans, Dirk Ruwaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Due to the ageing population, the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders will continue to rise, as well as healthcare expenditure. To overcome these increasing expenditures, integration of orthopaedic care should be stimulated. The Primary Care Plus (PC+) intervention aimed to achieve this by facilitating collaboration between primary care and the hospital, in which specialised medical care is shifted to a primary care setting. The present study aims to evaluate the referral decision following orthopaedic care in PC+ and in particular to evaluate the influence of diagnostic tests on this decision. Therefore, retrospective monitoring data of patients visiting PC+ for orthopaedic care was used. Data was divided into two periods; P1 and P2. During P2, specialists in PC+ were able to request additional diagnostic tests (such as ultrasounds and MRIs). A total of 2,438 patients visiting PC+ for orthopaedic care were included in the analysis. The primary outcome was the referral decision following PC+ (back to the general practitioner (GP) or referral to outpatient hospital care). Independent variables were consultation- and patient-related predictors. To describe variations in the referral decision, logistic regression modelling was used. Results show that during P2, significantly more patients were referred back to their GP. Moreover, the multivariable analysis show a significant effect of patient age on the referral decision (OR 0.86, 95% CI = 0.810.91) and a significant interaction was found between the treating specialist and the period (p = 0.015) and between patient's diagnosis and the period (p. 0.001). Despite the significant impact of the possibility of requesting additional diagnostic tests in PC+, it is important to discuss the extent to which the availability of diagnostic tests fits within the vision of PC+. In addition, selecting appropriate profiles for specialists and patients for PC+ are necessary to further optimise the effectiveness and cost of care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0227863
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2020



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