APH 2002, 60, 371-384:

Home visits in general practice: an exploration by focus groups.

P. Van Royen, J. De Lepeleire, R. Maes

Keywords: Belgium, family practice, home visits

Objectives: To determine in depth the added value, the disadvantage and/or benefit of a home visit versus an office encounter and to study the factors which determine the request and performance of home visits.

Method: Focus group research was conducted with general practitioners (GPs), patients and representatives of health insurance companies in Antwerp, Belgium. The major themes in the topic guide were value and/or disadvantages of a home visit, the patient s request for the home visit, the influence of health care and practice organisation, and the doctor him/herself. The discussions were tape-recorded, transcribed and systematically analysed.

Results: Content analysis of transcribed texts was undertaken and 77 items, related to the number and performance of home visits by GPs, were identified. These different codes were then classified into the 8 cat- egories of theoretical framework: different patient groups/illnesses, patient related factors, doctor related factors, practice organisation, context and intimacy, medical technical factors, health care organisation and economic factors.

Conclusion: Many factors influence the request and performance of home visits by GPs in Belgium. The practice organisation, the contextual information and patient related factors were the most frequently mentioned reasons to perform home visits, whereas doctor related factors, in this research, seemed less important.