The nine Austrian regions differ according to demographic parameter, health status, and health care structure. It was the aim of this study to analyse whether there are also differences in access points towards the level of ambulatory care.
The Austrian Health Interview Survey (2006–2007) data with 15,474 participants were used for this cross-sectional analysis. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics as well as multivariate logistic regression models and correlations.
There were significant differences in patients with direct utilisation of specialists without having consulted a general practitioner (GP) in the same period in the Austrian regions, with highest proportions for women in Vorarlberg (20.3 %) and men in Vienna (21.5 %) and lowest in Burgenland (7.0 and 6.6 %, respectively). The specialist/GP ratio correlated significantly with the direct specialist utilisation (Spearman correlation coefficient: 0.717).
There are spatial differences in the health care utilisation within the Austrian regions, which partly can be explained by the disposal of health care structure. These findings are of special importance according to the ongoing debate concerning the topic strengthening the primary health care sector in Austria.