Objective To examine the extent to which the family influences individual use of general practitioner care. Design Retrospective cohort study of all consultations in one calendar year. Multilevel modelling was used to analyse contact frequencies of individuals within families within practices. Setting General practice in the Netherlands. Participants 42 262 families with children aged 2-21 years registered in 96 practices. Main outcome measures Family influence on individual frequency of contact with general practice and correlation in frequency of contacts between parents and children. Results After correction for patients' age and sex, analysis of siblings indicates that 22% of the variance in frequencies of contact can be ascribed to influence of the family. This means that contact frequencies of family members within families resemble each other, whereas differences in contact frequencies exist between families. Almost 6% of the variance refers to differences between practices and 73% of the variance refers to individual differences. The strongest correlations were found between mothers and children and between children. Conclusions The extent of shared help seeking behaviour within families has considerable implications in the context of the practice
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