Sports medicine in The Netherlands: consultation with a sports physician without referral by a general practitioner
Matthijs C de Bruijn,1 Boudewijn J Kollen,2 Frank Baarveld2
1Center for Sports Medicine, 2Department of General Practice, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Background: In The Netherlands, sports medicine physicians are involved in the care of about 8% of all sports injuries that occur each year. Some patients consult a sports physician directly, without being referred by a general practitioner. This study aims to determine how many patients consult a sports physician directly, and to explore differences in the profiles of these patients compared with those who are referred.
Methods: This was an exploratory cross-sectional study in which all new patients presenting with an injury to a regional sports medical center during September 2010 were identified. The characteristics of patients who self-referred and those who were referred by other medical professionals were compared.
Results: A total of 234 patients were included (mean age 33.7 years, 59.1% male). Most of the injuries occurred during soccer and running, particularly injuries of the knee and ankle. In this cohort, 39.3% of patients consulted a sports physician directly. These patients were significantly more often involved in individual sports, consulted a sports physician relatively rapidly after the onset of injury, and had received significantly less care before this new event from medical professionals compared with patients who were referred.
Conclusion: In this study, 39.3% of patients with sports injuries consulted a sports physician directly without being referred by another medical professional. The profile of this group of patients differed from that of patients who were referred. The specific roles of general practitioners and sports physicians in medical sports care in The Netherlands needs to be defined further.
Keywords: sports injuries, sports medicine physician, primary care, secondary care
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