To deliver adequate care to patients with congenital heart disease (CHD), it is important to know which patients use what type of care. This knowledge is valuable, as modification of these factors may be used as means to regulate healthcare use. Our objective was to examine the predictive value of psychological characteristics for future healthcare use, independent of clinical characteristics.
In total 845 adult CHD-patients participated in a longitudinal questionnaire study, with a two-year follow-up period. Linear regression analyses with negative binomial log link function were performed predicting healthcare used during the previous year. Psychological predictors were Type D personality, quality of life (QoL), depressive symptoms, trait-anxiety, happiness, optimism, and illness perceptions, independent of the number of co-morbidities, disease complexity and functional status. To control for clustering we included the variable type of centre (regional versus tertiary referral).
Patients who reported more healthcare use had a complex defect, a poor functional status, no Type D personality, and a poor QoL. They moreover felt their CHD had a severe impact on their life and believed their CHD could be managed by themselves or treatment.
Healthcare use is not entirely determined by disease complexity and functional status but also by psychological patient characteristics. It can by hypothesised that reducing the negative impact experienced and informing patients about strategies to manage their CHD, will modify their future healthcare use. Additional research is necessary to examine this possibility.