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4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012-13 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/11/2013   
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MEDICAL SPECIALISTS


Medical specialists play a crucial role in the management and treatment of health conditions where they have specialist knowledge and skills. This chapter presents data on people who saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their visits, as well as about the services they used and barriers to accessing care.

Just over six million people aged 15 years and over (33.6%) saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months. A higher proportion of females than males saw a medical specialist (36.1% compared with 31.0%). (Tables 2.1 and 2.2)

The proportion of people who saw a medical specialist generally increased with age. Around one in five people (21.7%) aged 15-24 years saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months, compared with one in two people aged 75 years and over (54.8%). (Tables 2.1 and 2.2)

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, Visited a medical specialist in the previous 12 months, by age groups and sex

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were less likely to see a medical specialist than those living in the areas with least socio-economic disadvantage (31.1% compared with 37.1%). (Table 3.2)

FREQUENCY OF VISITS

Of the 6.1 million people aged 15 years and over who saw a medical specialist at least once in the previous 12 months, 33.3% went once, 38.7% went two to three times and the remaining 28.0% went four or more times. (Tables 8.1 and 8.2)

The number of times people saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months was related to how healthy they considered themselves to be. Overall, out of the population who saw a medical specialist, those who considered their health to be fair or poor were more likely to visit a medical specialist four or more times in the previous 12 months (42.1%) compared with those who felt their health to be good, very good or excellent (23.5%). (Table 9.2)

LONG TERM HEALTH CONDITION

Those who had a long term health condition were more than twice as likely to need to see a medical specialist than those without a long term health condition (56.8% compared with 23.4%). However, 43.2% of those with a long term health condition did not need to see a medical specialist. (Table 9.2)

In terms of people who saw a medical specialist, those with a long term health condition were also more than twice as likely to access a medical specialist than those without a long term health condition (50.7% compared with 19.6%). (Table 3.2)

The frequency of seeing a medical specialist was also related to whether the respondent had a long term health condition. Overall, out of the population who saw a medical specialist, those with a long term health condition were significantly more likely to have seen a medical specialist four or more times in the previous year (32.4%) compared with those without a long term health condition (18.8%). (Table 9.2)

Those who had a long term health condition were more likely to delay or not see a medical specialist due to cost than those who those without a long term health condition (8.3% compared with 6.8%). (Table 9.2)

BARRIERS

One of the benefits of a household based survey is that data can be collected from those who did not access health services as well as from those that did. It is therefore possible to obtain information from people who may have needed to access a health service, but did not access this service, and the reasons they did not access the health service.

Approximately 7.8% of people who needed to see a medical specialist in the previous 12 months delayed or did not see one because of the cost. This has remained steady from 2011-12 (8.4%). Females were more likely than males to delay seeing or not see a medical specialist due to cost (9.3% compared with 6.0%). (Tables 7 and 8.2 )


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