Psychosocial characteristics and affective symptomatology associated with patient self-initiated consultations in Spanish general practice

Montserrat Gomà-i-Freixanet*, Valentín Calvo-Rojas, Mariona Portell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


We aimed to determine the sociodemographic and psychosocial profile, and the associated subclinical affective symptomatology of users above the 95th percentile in the distribution of patient self-initiated, face-to-face consultations. Additionally, we sought to determine the contribution of subclinical symptomatology in differentiating between the groups above or below this cut-off point. A total of 16,803 users who self-initiated at least one face-to-face consultation with a GP at any of 13 PHC practices over 1 year, were eligible. After discarding those fulfilling exclusion criteria, 129 cases and 109 controls, matched by gender and age, answered the Family APGAR, the Duke-UNC and the Goldberg Anxiety-Depression scale. Both groups did not differ significantly on any of the sociodemographic and psychosocial variables recorded showing a similar percentage distribution. However, users with high self-initiated consultation rates obtained lower scores on the affective social support subscale from the Duke-UNC. Regarding Goldberg scale, the two groups differed significantly on the likelihood of displaying depression and/or anxiety symptoms. Users with a high probability of suffering from depression and/or anxiety were more prevalent among users on the top 5% in the distribution. Altogether, results indicate that these users report a lack of affective social support and have a higher probability of suffering from subclinical depression and/or anxiety. Early detection and treatment of affective symptomatology would temperate this excess in consultation. General practitioners, social workers and psychologists could act as gatekeepers, preventing this overuse of medical services and in turn lowering economical costs, professional burnout and patients’ suffering and discontent.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2312-2319
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Affective symptomatology
  • Frequent attenders
  • Healthcare utilisation
  • Mental health
  • Overusers
  • Primary care
  • Psychosocial determinants of health


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