Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Sociodemographic and health-related determinants for making repeated calls to a medical helpline: a prospective cohort study
  1. Mitti Blakoe1,2,
  2. Hejdi Gamst-Jensen1,
  3. My von Euler-Chelpin3,
  4. Helle Collatz Christensen1,
  5. Tom Møller2,4
  1. 1 Emergency Medical Services Copenhagen, Emergency Medical Services Copenhagen, Ballerup, Denmark
  2. 2 University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Sciences, Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. 3 Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Sciences, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4 The University Hospitals Centre for Health Research, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Ms Mitti Blakoe; mitti.blakoe{at}


Objectives To identify sociodemographic and health-related characteristics of callers’ making repeated calls within 48 hours to a medical helpline, compared with those who only call once.

Setting In the Capital Region of Denmark people with acute, non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries are triaged through a single-tier medical helpline for acute, healthcare services.

Participants People who called the medical helpline between 18 January and 9 February 2017 were invited to participate in the survey. During the period, 38 787 calls were handled and 12 902 agreed to participate. Calls were excluded because of the temporary civil registration number (n=78), the call was not made by the patient or a close relative (n=699), or survey responses were incomplete (n=19). Hence, the analysis included 12 106 calls, representing 11.131 callers’ making single calls and 464 callers’ making two or more calls within 48 hours. Callers’ data (age, sex and caller identification) were collected from the medical helpline’s electronic records. Data were enriched using the callers’ self-rated health, self-evaluated degree of worry, and registry data on income, ethnicity and comorbidities. The OR for making repeated calls was calculated in a crude, sex-adjusted and age-adjusted analysis and in a mutually adjusted analysis.

Results The crude logistic regression analysis showed that age, self-rated health, self-evaluated degree of worry, income, ethnicity and comorbidities were significantly associated with making repeated calls. In the mutually adjusted analysis associations decreased, however, odds ratios remained significantly decreased for callers with a household income in the middle (OR=0.71;95% CI 0.54 to 0.92) or highest (OR=0.68;95% CI 0.48 to 0.96) quartiles, whereas immigrants had borderline significantly increased OR (OR=1.34;95% CI 0.96 to 1.86) for making repeated calls.

Conclusions Findings suggest that income and ethnicity are potential determinants of callers’ need to make additional calls within 48 hours to a medical helpline with triage function.

  • organisation of health services
  • quality In health care

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors MB, HG-J, ME and TM: conceptualised the study. MB and HG-J: participated in data extraction. MB and MvE-C: participated in data analysis. MB and TM: produced the first draft of the manuscript. HG-J, MvE-C, HCC and TM: provided overall guidance and a final review of all manuscript drafts.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Danish Data Protective Agency (2012-58-0004). Approval from the Scientific Ethics Review Committee of the Capital Region of Denmark was requested but no permission is required (H-15016323).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.