Primary health care in transition: Variations in service profiles of general practitioners in Estonia and in Finland between 1993 and 2012

Kaja Põlluste*, Elise Kosunen, Tuomas Koskela, Kari J. Mattila, Willemijn L.A. Schäfer, Wienke G.W. Boerma, Margus Lember

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Since the early 1990s, the Estonian and Finnish health systems have undergone various changes which are expected to have impacted the type and range of services provided by general practitioners (GPs). Objective: To compare GP services between Estonia and Finland in 1993 and 2012 and draw a parallel with transformations occurred in the health systems of both countries during these two decades. Methods: Data were collected through surveys among 129 and 288 GPs from Estonia and Finland in 2012 and 139 Estonian and 239 Finnish GPs in 1993. Descriptive statistics were used to compare between countries and years. Results: Between 1993 and 2012, the number of working hours per week and consultations per day increased in Estonia and decreased in Finland. In 2012, GPs in were more often the first contact for psychosocial and women´s and children´s in Estonia, whereas this decreased in Finland. The frequency of treating acute patients mostly decreased in both countries. We observed a decrease in medical procedures in Finland and an increase in Estonia. Finnish GPs still conducted more procedures in 2012. Conclusion: Due to partly opposite changes, the services provided by Finnish and Estonian GPs became more similar. Still, there are large differences in services provided, possibly arising from differences in the organisation of health services, the training of doctors and patients’ preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Policy
Volume123
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • General practice
  • International comparison
  • Primary care
  • Primary care services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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