Objectives: To evaluate the appropriateness of the definition of outpatient-shopping behavior in Taiwanese patients. Study Design: Linked study of 3 databases (Taiwan Cancer Registry, National Health Insurance [NHI] claim database, and death registry database). Methods: Outpatient shopping behavior was defined as making at least 4 or 5 physician visits to confirm a cancer diagnosis. We analyzed patient-related factors and the 5-year overall survival rate of the outpatient-shopping group compared with a nonshopping group. Using the household registration database and NHI database, we determined the proportion of outpatient shopping, characteristics of patients who did and did not shop for outpatient therapy, time between diagnosis and start of regular treatment, and medical service utilization in the shopping versus the nonshopping group. Results: Patients with higher incomes were significantly more likely to shop for outpatient care. Patients with higher comorbidity scores were 1.4 times more likely to shop for outpatient care than patients with lower scores. Patients diagnosed with more advanced cancer were more likely to shop than those who were not. Patients might be more trusting of cancer diagnoses given at higher-level hospitals. The nonshopping groups had a longer duration of survival over 5 years. Conclusions: Health authorities should consider charging additional fees after a specific outpatient- shopping threshold is reached to reduce this behavior. The government may need to reassess the function of the medical sources network by shrinking it from the original 4 levels to 2 levels, or by enhancing the referral function among different hospital levels.[ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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