Objective: A recent study has suggested that overweight and obese people are more likely to consult a range of physicians (doctor shopping). The consistency of this finding with multiple measures of doctor shopping and controls for socioeconomic circumstances was interrogated.
Design and Methods: Ninety-nine thousand four hundred seven Australians aged 45 and over who had sought primary healthcare at least five times within 6 months of a survey (2006-2008). (i) The count of different physicians consulted; a binary indicator of (ii) >= three different physicians; (iii) >= five different physicians; and iv) a measure that took into account multiple consultations with the same physician were investigated. Weight status was measured using Body Mass Index (BMI) based on self-reported height and weight. Controls included socioeconomic circumstances, demographics, health, and neighborhood factors.
Results: In comparison to people with "normal" BMI, the likelihood of doctor shopping was lower among overweight (Incidence Rate Ratio: 0.97, 95%CI: 0.96, 0.98) and obese people (0.95: 0.93, 0.96). This negative correlation between doctor shopping behavior and weight status was consistent after full adjustment and across different outcome measures.
Conclusions: In contrast with recent evidence from the US, overweight and obese Australians are less prone to doctor shopping behavior than their peers with "normal" BMI.