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A random sample of the records of patients having barium meal examinations at a district general hospital was reviewed. In both males and females, there was no significant difference in the proportions of abnormalities between referrals from hospital doctors and general practitioners. Younger males were less likely to show abnormalities than older males, but there was no age difference in the proportions of abnormal barium meals in females. There was a smaller proportion of major abnormalities (19 per cent) in female than male patients (28 per cent). This study does not suggest that any reduction of direct access barium meal examinations for general practitioners is necessary.