Over a period of two months in 1988 and 1989 all general practitioners in the Norwegian county of Møre and Romsdal recorded all contacts with their patients. We report data from 1,384 house calls to elderly patients (65 years and older). House calls made up 11.3% of all face-to-face contacts between general practitioners and elderly patients. 59% of the visits were to female patients, and 60% were to patients 75 years and older. 23% of the house calls took place during weekends, and new diagnoses were made in 58% of the cases. The most common groups of diagnoses were cardiovascular (21%), respiratory (16%), and musculoskeletal diseases (13%). Drugs were prescribed for 42% of the house calls. 28% of all drugs prescribed were for the nervous system, while 26% were antibiotics for systemic use. Most house calls were made because of acute illnesses. Our results suggest that preventive home visits to the elderly are rarely, if ever, performed in general practice.
The aim of this study was to compare the estimation ability of a dental hygienist to that of a dentist when, independently, recording the oral health status and treatment need in a population of elderly, receiving home nursing. Seventy-three persons, enrolled in a home nursing long-time care programme, were recruited. For the oral examination a newly developed protocol with comparatively blunt measurement variables was used. The oral examination protocol was tested for construct validity and for internal consistency reliability. Statistical analyses were performed using Wilcoxon matched pairs signed rank sum test for testing differences, while inter-examiner agreement was estimated by calculating the kappa-values. Comparing the two examiners, good agreement was demonstrated for all mucosal recordings, colour, form, wounds, blisters, mucosal index, and for the palatal but not the lingual mucosa. For the latter, the dental hygienist recorded significantly more changes. The dental hygienist also recorded significantly higher plaque index values. Also regarding treatment intention and treatment need, the dental hygienist's estimation was somewhat higher. In conclusion, when comparing the dental hygienist's and the dentist's ability to estimate oral health status, treatment intention, and treatment need, some differences were observed, the dental hygienist tending to register "on the safe side", calling attention to the importance of inter-examiner calibration. However, for practical purpose the inter-examiner agreement was acceptable, constituting a promising basis for future out-reach activities.