We aim to examine the socio-economic, demographic and disease-specific determinants in the use of health services by patients with epilepsy, compared to people without epilepsy. We used data from the fourth national survey of morbidity in general practice, carried out in 1991-1992. Overall mean annual number of consultations with general practitioners, home visits and referrals to secondary care per person were calculated for people with epilepsy, stratified by age, sex and socio-economic status. The proportion of patients consulting for certain diseases or disease groups were also calculated for patients with epilepsy. Results were compared to these in people without epilepsy, and rate ratios were calculated. Patients with epilepsy consulted twice as often, required three to four times more home visits, and were referred to secondary care three times more often than people without epilepsy, irrespective of age, sex and social class. Among patients with epilepsy, consultation rates and home visits were higher in females, older people and people from the manual social classes. A higher proportion of patients with epilepsy consulted for neoplasms, haematological and mental health disorders, dementia, stroke and gastrointestinal bleeding. Older age and low social class were less strongly associated with health service utilisation than in people without epilepsy, indicating that people with epilepsy lose much of the protective effect of young age and high social class on health. Factors contributing to the higher utilisation of health services in people with epilepsy need to be studied further and their effects taken into account in the organisation of health services for people with epilepsy.
- Health services