THE AIM of the study was to compare the use of healthcare and satisfaction with access to it among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in different regions of Estonia and to analyse the determinants of satisfaction with access to health services.
METHODS. Using an original pre-structured questionnaire, 1259 adult Estonian patients with RA were investigated in 2007. The sample (n = 2000) was randomly selected from the database of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
RESULTS. Longer waiting times to see the doctor, lower level of satisfaction with them, and more severe pain had a negative impact on the level of satisfaction with access to healthcare. There was found no geographical variation in satisfaction with access to healthcare. However, several variations became obvious in assessments of RA patients from the capital compared to other regions concerning the use of primary health care (PHC) and specialised medical care.
CONCLUSIONS. Satisfaction with access to healthcare depends on satisfaction with doctors as well as with the possibility to have quick access to appropriate services in the case of need. Equal access to healthcare should be sought for all who need it, but there is a geographical variation in access to PHC.