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75 Triage of elderly citizens calling a danish medical helpline
  1. S Miseljic1,2,
  2. H Gamst-Jensen1,3,
  3. F Folke1,
  4. T Møller2,4
  1. 1Emergency Medical Services Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. 3The National Institute for Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4The University Hospitals Centre for Health Research, UCSF Copenhagen Denmark


Aim Symptom description and degree-of-worry (DOW) by elderly contacting a medical helpline are poorly described.1 Several diagnoses may be associated with preventable admissions for elderly citizens,2 and increased risk of over-and-under-triage.3 We aimed to investigate how symptoms and worry are described by elderly citizens (age 65 and older) when they call a medical hotline.

Method A mixed method design on data gathered from a three-week 2017 cohort, where callers rated their DOW on a 1–5 scale. A sub-cohort of 65+years was used. The National Patient Register gave data on admissions. Calls made by the patients (patient-caller) was included for the qualitative analysis (n=90).

Results A total of 1530 acutely ill or injured elderly called the medical helpline. n=755 (50%) were patient-callers and n=364 (48%) of these had a high DOW. Of all patient-callers n=216 (28.6%) were triaged to face-to-face consultation and n=73 (9.7%) were subsequently admitted. The preliminary qualitative analysis led to the hypothesis that patient-callers often expressed exacerbation of chronic diseases (which are part of the preventable admission) and often lived alone. Those that were not triaged to face-to-face consultation were frequently offered one, but rejected because of the obstacles of leaving their home. The majority of patient-callers triaged to face-to-face consultation expressed that their general practitioner was not able to help them.

Conclusion The majority of the elderly patient-callers was very worried and lived alone. Most of the calls concerned exacerbation of a chronic condition and most of the symptoms fitted the described preventable admission diagnoses.


  1. . Gamst-Jensen H, et al. Self-rated worry predicts hospitalisation in out-of-hours services telephone triage. Copenhagen; 2018. (abstact, not published).

  2. . KL. Regions of Denmark, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health, 2016; Indblik i sundhedsvæsenets resultater 2016, Report published by Ministry of Health. Avaliable at [cited 2018 Jan 12] – Publikationer_i_pdf/2016/Indblik-i-sundhedsvaesenets-resultater-maj-2016/Indblik-i-sundhedsvaesenets-resultater-maj-2016.pdf

  3. . Gamst-Jensen H, Lippert FK, Egerod I. Under-triage in telephone consultation is related to non-normative symptom description and interpersonal communication: A mixed methods study. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med2017December 15;25(1):52.

Conflict of interest None

Funding None

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