Striking trends in the incidence of health problems in The Netherlands (2002-05). Findings from a new strategy for surveillance in general practice.
until further notice
SourceEuropean Journal of Public Health, 19, 3, (2009), pp. 290-296
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
Epidemiology, Biostatistics & HTA
European Journal of Public Health
SubjectNCEBP 2: Evaluation of complex medical interventions; NCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health; ONCOL 2: Age-related aspects of cancer; ONCOL 5: Aetiology, screening and detection
BACKGROUND: This study aimed to detect striking trends based on a new strategy for monitoring public health. METHODS: We used data over 4 years from electronic medical records of a large, nationally representative network of general practices. Episodes were either directly recorded by general practitioners (GPs) or were constructed using a new record linkage method (EPICON). The episodes were used to estimate raw morbidity rates for all codes of the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC). Multilevel Poisson regression models were used to analyse the trend over time for 15 health problems that showed an obvious change over time. Based on these models, we calculated adjusted incidence rates corrected for clustering, sex and age. RESULTS: During 2002-05, both men and women increasingly consulted the GP because of concern about a drug reaction, a change in faeces/bowel movements and urination problems. Men showed an increase in consultations for prostate problems and venereal diseases. The incidence of chronic internal knee derangement decreased for both sexes. Women consulted their GP less frequently about sterilization and fear of being pregnant. CONCLUSION: The strategy developed proved to be useful to detect trends across a short period of time. Changes in the health care market, such as the increasing availability of over-the-counter drugs and various large advertising campaigns for medications may explain some of the findings. The increasing incidence of health problems in the urogenital area deserves attention as it could reflect increases in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and urinary tract infections.
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