OBJECTIVE: To determine the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of frequent attenders and compare them with another group of routine attenders in three primary care centers. METHOD: The sample is composed by 232 frequent attenders (defined by number of consultations in the last year of 12 or more) and 93 routine attenders. The instruments used are: a questionnaire for the evaluation of the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and the 28-item Goldberg General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28). RESULTS: The logistic regression shows that increase of age, low level of education, presence of chronic disease, psychiatric diagnosis and presence of psychopathological <> symptomatology establish significant differences in the group of frequent attenders in relation to the routine attenders group. There are no significant differences between men and women. CONCLUSION: Frequent attenders present higher rates of physical, mental and social complaints. Age, some chronic conditions and psychopathology are the most important factors for frequent attendance.
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