Original Article: PDF OnlyHealth Perceptions of Primary Care Patients and the Influence on Health Care UtilizationConnelly, Julia E. MD*; Philbrick, John T. MD*; Smith, G Richard Jr. MD†; Kaiser, Donald L. DrPH‡; Wymer, Antoinette MD§ Author Information *From the University of Virginia, School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia †From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas ‡From the Division of Information Science and Biostatistics, University of Virginia, School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia §From the Division of General Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia, School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia Medical Care: March 1989 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p S99-S109 Buy Abstract This prospective study was conducted to determine the influence of primary care patients' health perceptions on their utilization of health care services. Patients' health perceptions were measured using The RAND Corporation's General Health Perceptions Questionnaire. Physicians provided scores of how they thought the patients perceived their health and of actual physical and emotional health. Utilization data (number of office visits, number of telephone calls to the physician, and ambulatory charges) were evaluated for a 12-month period after completion of the questionnaire. Of 208 patients, 62 (30%) patients with health perceptions scores less than 50 had greater degrees of anxiety (P < .001), depression (P < .001), health-related worry (P <.001), and felt less able to resist illness (P < .001) than patients with higher health perception scores. Analysis of covariance was used to control for differences in physical health among groups of patients with varying health perceptions. These analyses revealed that patients with low health perceptions made more office visits (P = .002), more telephone calls to the physician (P = .01), and had more office charges (P= .05) than patients with higher scores. Physicians accurately predicted the patients' health perceptions in 49% of the cases. In 37%, they thought patients would score their health perceptions higher than they did; in 14% they thought patients would score their health perceptions lower. Health perceptions are an important factor contributing to the use of health care by primary care patients, regardless of the patient's actual physical health. Persons with low health perceptions account for approximately 5% of office visits, a clinically important fraction, especially when compared to the 9% of office visits for hypertension, the most common disease treated in the medical office. © Lippincott-Raven Publishers.