A team from the Netherlands investigated the prevalence of dyspepsia in general practice and the characteristics of patients presenting with dyspepsia in primary care. In addition, they evaluated the clinical and non-clinical determinants of referral in these patients.
A cross-sectional survey of the consultation records of patients presenting with dyspepsia in primary care during a one-year period was conducted.
Dyspeptic patients who consulted their general practitioner (GP) in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 1997 were selected. A total of 48,958 patients were included in the study.
The researchers found that the prevalence of dyspepsia presenting in primary care in 1997 was 3.4%. These patients were usually not referred during the first consultation.
Men, elderly patients, and patients with a previous history of dyspepsia were referred to secondary care more frequently than other dyspeptic patients.
|3.4% of patients presenting to GPs had dyspepsia.|
|Postgraduate Medical Journal|
Patients diagnosed with both irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia were at risk of being referred most.
The team noted that dyspepsia is a frequently occurring complaint in primary care, and patients are usually treated by their GP.
Author M. J. van Bommel, of the University Medical Center, Utrecht, said on behalf of the group, "Besides clinically relevant reasons for referral, dyspeptic patients with irritable bowel syndrome seem to be more ‘at risk' of being referred to secondary care than other dyspeptic patients."
"The differences between primary and secondary care dyspeptic patients should be taken into account when interpreting research for guideline purposes.
"Further research is needed to clarify the background of the relation between irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia and its influence on referral," it was concluded.