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Erroneous, blurred, and mistaken—comments on the care need index
  1. Bo Burström1,
  2. Olle Lundberg2
  1. 1Karolinska Institutet/Stockholm County Council, Sweden
  2. 2Centre for Health Equity Studies, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr B Burström
 Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Social Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm SE-171 76, Sweden

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Sundquist et al present a care need index for allocation of primary health care resources.1 Unfortunately, their paper rests on an erroneous description of the allocation model presently used in Stockholm, a blurred conception of need, and a mistake in the handling of data.

The model used by Stockholm County Council to distribute funds between areas to purchase health care consists of four different components: (1) hospital based care,2 (2) private specialist care, (3) primary health care, and (4) pharmaceutical drugs. The primary health care model gives extra weight to neighbourhoods with high proportions of low income earners, immigrants, and single persons; and according to the proportion under 16 and over 64 years as they use primary health care more.3 This approach is as likely to capture health care needs in the population as the care need index (CNI) model, and it is not based on prior health care utilisation as suggested by Sundquist et al.

In the CNI model “need” is defined on the basis of a set of pre-defined indicators that general practitioners have weighted according to their impact on GP work load. Models of health care utilisation usually differentiate between need and demand,4–6 as the probabilities to show up in the GP’s waiting room differ between persons and social groups, given the same …

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