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1.  Increased risk for chronic comorbid disorders in patients with inflammatory arthritis: a population based study 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:199.
Studies determining the development of a wide variety of different comorbid disorders in inflammatory arthritis (IA) patients are scarce, however, this knowledge could be helpful in optimising preventive care in IA patients. The aim of this study is to establish the risk that new chronic comorbid disorders in newly diagnosed patients with IA in a primary care setting are developed.
This is a nested-case–control study from 2001–2010 using data from electronic medical patient records in general practice. In total, 3,354 patients with newly diagnosed IA were selected. Each patient was matched with two control patients of the same age and sex in the same general practice. The development of 121 chronic comorbid disorders of index and control patients was compared using Cox regression.
After a median follow-up period of 2.8 years, 56% of the IA-patients had developed at least one chronic comorbid disorder after the onset of IA, compared to 46% of the control patients (p < 0.05). The most frequent developed comorbid disorders after the onset of IA were of cardiovascular (23%), and musculoskeletal (17%) origin. The highest hazard ratios (HRs) were found for anaemia (HR 2.0 [95% CI: 1.4-2.7]) osteoporosis (HR 1.9 [1.4-2.4]), and COPD (HR 1.8 [1.4-2.3]).
Patients with IA developed more chronic comorbid disorders after the onset of IA than one might expect based on age and sex. Since comorbidity has a large impact on the disease course, quality of life, and possibly on treatment itself, prevention of comorbidity should be one of the main targets in the treatment of IA patients.
PMCID: PMC3909051  PMID: 24364915
Inflammatory arthritis; Comorbidity; General practice; Disease onset; Chronic disease
2.  The validity of the diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis in a large population-based primary care database 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:79.
Large population-based databases based on electronic medical records (EMRs) of patients in primary care are a useful data source to investigate morbidity and health care utilization. Diagnoses recorded in EMRs are doctor-defined, but their validity can be disputed. In this study we investigated the validity of the diagnosis inflammatory arthritis (IA), a group of chronic rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, in primary care based EMRs.
In five general practices, participating in the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH), EMRs of 219 patients with a diagnostic code of IA were systematically reviewed on characteristics which are not routinely extracted for the LINH database. The diagnosis IA was confirmed when we found, based on a correspondence with a medical specialist, the following diagnoses in the free text fields of the EMR: oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and/or spondyloarthropathy. These results were used to determine the validity of the diagnosis IA in EMRs and to develop an algorithm to improve diagnostic validity.
From the 219 patients diagnosed as IA in the database, the diagnosis IA was confirmed in 155 patients (70.8%). The algorithm, which resulted in a group of patients with as many as possible confirmed IA-diagnosed patients without excluding too many patients from our dataset, was when patients fulfilled at least one of the following three criteria: 1) a repeat prescription for a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) and/or biological agent, 2) ≥ four contacts or one episode with a diagnostic code for IA, combined with at least two IA-related prescriptions (excluding DMARDs/biological agents), and 3) age at diagnosis ≥ 61 years. After applying this algorithm, the percentage of correctly diagnosed IA patients increased from 71% to 78% reducing the size of our study population by 36%.
Based on additional diagnostic information, the diagnosis IA from EMRs of patients in primary care is sufficiently valid when using the proposed algorithm. After applying the algorithm, the percentage of correctly diagnosed IA patients increased from 71% to 78%.
PMCID: PMC3682903  PMID: 24128086
Validity; Inflammatory arthritis; General practice; EMRs
3.  Do pregnant women contact their general practitioner? A register-based comparison of healthcare utilisation of pregnant and non-pregnant women in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:10.
Midwives and obstetricians are the key providers of care during pregnancy and postpartum. Information about the consultations with a general practitioner (GP) during this period is generally lacking.
The aim of this study is to compare consultation rates, diagnoses and GP management of pregnant women with those of non-pregnant women.
Data were retrieved from the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH), a nationally representative register. This register holds longitudinal data on consultations, prescriptions and the referrals of all patients listed at 84 practices in the Netherlands in 2007–2009, including 15,123 pregnant women and 102,564 non-pregnant women in the same age-range (15 to 45 years). We compared consultation rates (including all contacts with the practice), diagnoses (ICPC-1 coded), medication prescriptions (coded according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system), and rate and type of referrals from the start of the pregnancy until six weeks postpartum (336 days).
Pregnant women contacted their GP on average 3.6 times, compared to 2.2 times for non-pregnant women. The most frequently recorded diagnoses for pregnant women were ‘pregnancy’ and ‘cystitis/urinary infection’, and ‘cystitis/urinary infection’ and ‘general disease not otherwise specified’ for non-pregnant women. The mean number of prescribed medications was lower in pregnant women (2.1 against 4.4). For pregnant women, the most frequent referral indication concerned obstetric care, for non-pregnant women this concerned physiotherapy.
GP consultation rates in pregnancy and postpartum shows that GPs are important providers of care for pregnant women. Therefore, the involvement of GPs in collaborative care during pregnancy and postpartum should be reinforced.
PMCID: PMC3554585  PMID: 23324253
Primary health care; General practitioner; Pregnancy; Health services research; Prenatal care
4.  Excess of health care use in general practice and of comorbid chronic conditions in cancer patients compared to controls 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:60.
The number of cancer patients and the number of patients surviving initial treatments is expected to rise. Traditionally, follow-up monitoring takes place in secondary care. The contribution of general practice is less visible and not clearly defined.
This study aimed to compare healthcare use in general practice of patients with cancer during the follow-up phase compared with patients without cancer. We also examined the influence of comorbid conditions on healthcare utilisation by these patients in general practice.
We compared health care use of N=8,703 cancer patients with an age and gender-matched control group of patients without cancer from the same practice. Data originate from the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH), a representative network consisting of 92 general practices with 350,000 enlisted patients. Health care utilisation was assessed using data on contacts with general practice, prescription and referral rates recorded between 1/1/2001 and 31/12/2007. The existence of additional comorbid chronic conditions (ICPC coded) was taken into account.
Compared to matched controls, cancer patients had more contacts with their GP-practice (19.5 vs. 11.9, p<.01), more consultations with the GP (3.5 vs. 2.7, p<.01), more home visits (1.6 vs. 0.4, p<.01) and they got more medicines prescribed (18.7 vs. 11.6, p<.01) during the follow-up phase. Cancer patients more often had a chronic condition than their matched controls (52% vs. 44%, p<.01). Having a chronic condition increased health care use for both patients with and without cancer. Cancer patients with a comorbid condition had the highest health care use.
We found that cancer patients in the follow-up phase consulted general practice more often and suffered more often from comorbid chronic conditions, compared to patients without cancer. It is expected that the number of cancer patients will rise in the years to come and that primary health care professionals will be more involved in follow-up care. Care for comorbid chronic conditions, communication between specialists and GPs, and coordination of tasks then need special attention.
PMCID: PMC3480891  PMID: 22712888
Neoplasms; Cancer; Primary health care; General practitioner; Follow-up; Comorbidity
5.  Increased incidence of kidney diseases in general practice after a nationwide albuminuria self-test program 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:81.
To study the influence of a nationwide albuminuria self-test program on the number of GP contacts for urinary complaints and/or kidney diseases and the number of newly diagnosed patients with kidney diseases by the GP.
Data were used from the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH), including a representative sample of general practices with a dynamic population of approximately 300.000 listed patients. Morbidity data were retrieved from electronic medical records, kept in a representative sample of general practices. The incidence of kidney diseases and urinary complaints before and after the albuminuria self-test program was compared with logistic regression analyses.
Data were used from 139 general practices, including 444,220 registered patients. The number of GP consultations for kidney diseases and urinary complaints was increased in the year after the albuminuria self-test program and particularly shortly after the start of the program. Compared with the period before the self-test program, more patients have been diagnosed by the GP with symptoms/complaints of kidney disease and urinary diseases (OR = 1.7 (CI 1.4 - 2.0) and OR = 2.1 (CI 1.9 - 2.3), respectively). The odds on an abnormal urine-test in the period after the self-test program was three times higher than the year before (OR = 3.0 (CI 2.4 - 3.6)). The effect of the self-test program on newly diagnosed patients with an abnormal urine test was modified by both the presence of the risk factors hypertension and diabetes mellitus. For this diagnosis the highest OR was found in patients without both conditions (OR = 4.2 (CI 3.3 - 5.4)).
A nationwide albuminuria self-test program resulted in an increasing number of newly diagnosed kidney complaints and diseases the year after the program. The highest risks were found in patients without risk factors for kidney diseases.
PMCID: PMC3162897  PMID: 21812999
6.  The effectiveness of case management for comorbid diabetes type 2 patients; the CasCo study. Design of a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:68.
More than half of the patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) patients are diagnosed with one or more comorbid disorders. They can participate in several single-disease oriented disease management programs, which may lead to fragmented care because these programs are not well prepared for coordinating care between programs. Comorbid patients are therefore at risk for suboptimal treatment, unsafe care, inefficient use of health care services and unnecessary costs. Case management is a possible model to counteract fragmented care for comorbid patients. It includes evidence-based optimal care, but is tailored to the individual patients' preferences.
The objective of this study is to examine the effectiveness of a case management program, in addition to a diabetes management program, on the quality of care for comorbid T2DM patients.
The study is a randomized controlled trial among patients with T2DM and at least one comorbid chronic disease (N = 230), who already participate in a diabetes management program. Randomization will take place at the level of the patients in general practices. Trained practice nurses (case managers) will apply a case management program in addition to the diabetes management program. The case management intervention is based on the Guided Care model and includes six elements; assessing health care needs, planning care, create access to other care providers and community resources, monitoring, coordinating care and recording of all relevant information. Patients in the control group will continue their participation in the diabetes management program and receive care-as-usual from their general practitioner and other care providers.
We expect that the case management program, which includes better structured care based on scientific evidence and adjusted to the patients' needs and priorities, will improve the quality of care coordination from both the patients' and caregivers' perspective and will result in less consumption of health care services.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR1847
PMCID: PMC3142502  PMID: 21729265
7.  Low hospital admission rates for respiratory diseases in children 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:76.
Population-based data on hospital admissions for children aged 0-17 years concerning all respiratory diseases are scarce. This study examined hospital admissions in relation to the preceding consultations in general practice in this age group.
Data on children aged 0-17 years with respiratory diseases included in the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2) were linked to all hospital admissions in the Dutch National Medical Registration. Admission rates for respiratory diseases were calculated. Data were analysed using multivariate logistic regression.
Of all 79,272 children within the DNSGP-2, 1.8% were admitted to hospital for any respiratory diagnosis. The highest admission rates per 1000 children were for chronic disease of tonsils and adenoids (12.9); pneumonia and influenza (0.97); and asthma (0.92). Children aged 0-4 years and boys were admitted more frequently. Of children with asthma, 2.3% were admitted for respiratory diseases. For asthma, admission rates varied by urbanisation level: 0.47/1000 children/year in cities with ≤ 30,000 inhabitants, 1.12 for cities with ≥ 50,000 inhabitants, and 1.73 for the three largest cities (p = 0.002). Multivariate logistic regression showed that within two weeks after a GP consultation, younger age (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.76-0.88) and more severe respiratory diseases (5.55, 95% CI 2.99-8.11) predicted hospital admission.
Children in the general population with respiratory diseases (especially asthma) had very low hospital admission rates. In urban regions children were more frequently admitted due to respiratory morbidity. For effectiveness studies in a primary care setting, hospital admission rates should not be used as quality end-point.
PMCID: PMC2958964  PMID: 20932339
8.  Dizziness reported by elderly patients in family practice: prevalence, incidence, and clinical characteristics 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:2.
Although dizziness in elderly patients is very common in family practice, most prevalence studies on dizziness are community-based and include a study population that is not representative of family practice. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and incidence of dizziness reported by elderly patients in family practice, to describe their final diagnoses as recorded by the family physician, and to compare the clinical characteristics of dizzy patients with those of non-dizzy patients.
Data were obtained from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice, a prospective registration study which took place over a 12-month period in 2001. We developed a search strategy consisting of 15 truncated search terms (based on Dutch synonyms for dizziness), and identified all patients aged 65 or older who visited their family physician because of dizziness (N = 3,990). We used the mid-time population as denominator to calculate the prevalence and incidence, and for group comparisons we used the Student's t and Chi-square test, and logistic regression analysis.
The one-year prevalence of dizziness in family practice in patients aged 65 or older was 8.3%, it was higher in women than in men, and it increased with age. In patients aged 85 or older the prevalence was similar for men and women. The incidence of dizziness was 47.1 per 1000 person-years. For 39% of the dizzy patients the family physicians did not specify a diagnosis, and recorded a symptom diagnosis as the final diagnosis. Living alone, lower level of education, pre-existing cerebrovascular disease, and pre-existing hypertension were independently associated with dizziness.
Dizziness in family practice patients increases with age. It is more common in women than in men, but this gender difference disappears in the very old. Because a large proportion of dizzy elderly patients in family practice remains undiagnosed, it would be worthwhile to carry out more diagnostic research on dizziness in a family practice setting.
PMCID: PMC2817676  PMID: 20064231
9.  Upper gastrointestinal symptoms, psychosocial co-morbidity and health care seeking in general practice: population based case control study 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:63.
The pathophysiology of upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms is still poorly understood. Psychological symptoms were found to be more common in patients with functional gastrointestinal complaints, but it is debated whether they are primarily linked to GI symptoms or rather represent motivations for health-care seeking. Purpose of our study was to compare co-morbidity, in particular psychological and social problems, between patients with and without upper GI symptoms. In addition, we investigated whether the prevalence of psychological and social problems is part of a broader pattern of illness related health care use.
Population based case control study based on the second Dutch National Survey of general practice (conducted in 2001). Cases (adults visiting their primary care physician (PCP) with upper GI symptoms) and controls (individuals not having any of these complaints), matched for gender, age, PCP-practice and ethnicity were compared. Main outcome measures were contact frequency, prevalence of somatic as well as psychosocial diagnoses, prescription rate of (psycho)pharmacological agents, and referral rates. Data were analyzed using odds ratios, the Chi square test as well as multivariable logistic regression analysis.
Data from 13,389 patients with upper GI symptoms and 13,389 control patients were analyzed. Patients with upper GI symptoms visited their PCP twice as frequently as controls (8.6 vs 4.4 times/year). Patients with upper GI symptoms presented not only more psychological and social problems, but also more other health problems to their PCP (odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 1.37 to 3.45). Patients with upper GI symptoms more frequently used drugs of any ATC-class (ORs ranging from 1.39 to 2.90), including psychotropic agents. The observed differences were less pronounced when we adjusted for non-attending control patients. In multivariate regression analysis, contact frequency and not psychological or social co-morbidity was strongest associated with patients suffering from upper GI symptoms.
Patients with upper GI symptoms visit their PCP more frequently for problems of any organ system, including psychosocial problems. The relationship between upper GI symptoms and psychological problems is equivocal and may reflect increased health care demands in general.
PMCID: PMC2749014  PMID: 19740413
10.  Development of a diagnostic protocol for dizziness in elderly patients in general practice: a Delphi procedure 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:12.
Dizziness in general practice is very common, especially in elderly patients. The empirical evidence for diagnostic tests in the evaluation of dizziness is scarce. Aim of our study was to determine which set of diagnostic tests should be part of a diagnostic protocol for evaluating dizziness in elderly patients in general practice.
We conducted a Delphi procedure with a panel of 16 national and international experts of all relevant medical specialities in the field of dizziness. A selection of 36 diagnostic tests, based on a systematic review and practice guidelines, was presented to the panel. Each test was described extensively, and data on test characteristics and methodological quality (assessed with the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies, QUADAS) were presented. The threshold for in- or exclusion of a diagnostic test was set at an agreement of 70%.
During three rounds 21 diagnostic tests were selected, concerning patient history (4 items), physical examination (11 items), and additional tests (6 items). Five tests were excluded, although they are recommended by existing practice guidelines on dizziness. Two tests were included, although several practice guidelines question their diagnostic value. Two more tests were included that have never been recommended by practice guidelines on dizziness.
In this study we successfully combined empirical evidence with expert opinion for the development of a set of diagnostic tests for evaluating dizziness in elderly patients. This comprehensive set of tests will be evaluated in a cross-sectional diagnostic study.
PMCID: PMC2660288  PMID: 19200395
11.  Inter-practice variation in diagnosing hypertension and diabetes mellitus: a cross-sectional study in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:6.
Previous studies of inter-practice variation of the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes mellitus showed wide variations between practices. However, in these studies inter-practice variation was calculated without controlling for clustering of patients within practices and without adjusting for patient and practice characteristics. Therefore, in the present study inter-practice variation of diagnosed hypertension and diabetes mellitus prevalence rates was calculated by 1) using a multi-level design and 2) adjusting for patient and practice characteristics.
Data were used from the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH) in 2004. Of all 168.045 registered patients, the presence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus and all available ICPC coded symptoms and diseases related to hypertension and diabetes, were determined. Also, the characteristics of practices were used in the analyses. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed.
The 95% prevalence range for the practices for the prevalence of diagnosed hypertension and diabetes mellitus was 66.3 to 181.7 per 1000 patients and 22.2 to 65.8 per 1000 patients, respectively, after adjustment for patient and practice characteristics. The presence of hypertension and diabetes was best predicted by patient characteristics. The most important predictors of hypertension were obesity (OR = 3.5), presence of a lipid disorder (OR = 3.0), and diabetes mellitus (OR = 2.6), whereas the presence of diabetes mellitus was particularly predicted by retinopathy (OR = 8.5), lipid disorders (OR = 2.8) and hypertension (OR = 2.7).
Although not the optimal case-mix could be used in this study, we conclude that even after adjustment for patient (demographic variables and risk factors for hypertension and diabetes mellitus) and practice characteristics (practice size and presence of a practice nurse), there is a wide difference between general practices in the prevalence rates of diagnosed hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC2632987  PMID: 19159455
12.  Recently enlisted patients in general practice use more health care resources 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:64.
The continuity of care is one of the cornerstones of general practice. General practitioners find personal relationships with their patients important as they enable them to provide a higher quality of care. A long-lasting relationship with patients is assumed to be a prior condition for attaining this high quality. We studied the differences in use of care between recently enlisted patients and those patients who have been enlisted for a longer period.
104 general practices in the Netherlands participated the study. We performed a retrospective cohort study in which patients who have been enlisted for less than 1 year (n = 10,102) were matched for age, sex and health insurance with patients who have been enlisted for longer in the same general practice. The two cohorts were compared with regard to the number of contacts with the general practice, diagnoses, rate of prescribing, and the referral rate in a year. These variables were chosen as indicators of differences in the use of care.
In the year following their enlistment, a higher percentage of recently enlisted patients had at least one contact with the practice, received a prescription or was referred. They also had a higher probability of receiving a prescription for an antibiotic. Furthermore, they had a higher mean number of contacts and referrals, but not a higher mean number of prescriptions.
Recently enlisted patients used more health care resources in the first year after their enlistment compared to patients enlisted longer. This could not be explained by differences in health.
PMCID: PMC2235863  PMID: 18047642
13.  Diagnostic labelling as determinant of antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract episodes in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:55.
Next to other GP characteristics, diagnostic labelling (the proportion of acute respiratory tract (RT) episodes to be labelled as infections) probably contributes to a higher volume of antibiotic prescriptions for acute RT episodes. However, it is unknown whether there is an independent association between diagnostic labelling and the volume of prescribed antibiotics, or whether diagnostic labelling is associated with the number of presented acute RT episodes and consequently with the number of antibiotics prescribed per patient per year.
Data were used from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2) with 163 GPs from 85 Dutch practices, serving a population of 359,625 patients. Data over a 12 month period were analysed by means of multiple linear regression analysis. Main outcome measure was the volume of antibiotic prescriptions for acute RT episodes per 1,000 patients.
The incidence was 236.9 acute RT episodes/1,000 patients. GPs labelled about 70% of acute RT episodes as infections, and antibiotics were prescribed in 41% of all acute RT episodes. A higher incidence of acute RT episodes (beta 0.67), a stronger inclination to label episodes as infections (beta 0.24), a stronger endorsement of the need of antibiotics in case of white spots in the throat (beta 0.11) and being male (beta 0.11) were independent determinants of the prescribed volume of antibiotics for acute RT episodes, whereas diagnostic labelling was not correlated with the incidence of acute RT episodes.
Diagnostic labelling is a relevant factor in GPs' antibiotic prescribing independent from the incidence of acute RT episodes. Therefore, quality assurance programs and postgraduate courses should emphasise to use evidence based prognostic criteria (e.g. chronic respiratory co-morbidity and old age) as an indication to prescribe antibiotics in stead of single inflammation signs or diagnostic labels.
PMCID: PMC2039734  PMID: 17883832
14.  Do general practitioners adhere to the guideline on infectious conjunctivitis? Results of the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:54.
In 1996 the guideline 'The Red Eye' was first published by the Dutch College of General Practitioners. The extent to which general practitioners adhere to this guideline is unclear. Recently, data on the management of infectious conjunctivitis by general practitioners became available from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice. We measured the age-specific incidence of infectious conjunctivitis, described its management by Dutch general practitioners, and then compared these findings with the recommendations made in the guideline.
In 2001, over a 12-month period, data from all patient contacts with 195 general practitioners were taken from electronic medical records. Registration was episode-oriented; all consultations dealing with the same health problem were grouped into disease episodes. Data concerning all episodes of infectious conjunctivitis (ICPC-code F70 and sub codes) were analysed.
Over one year, 5,213 new and recurrent episodes of infectious conjunctivitis were presented to general practitioners from a population of N = 375,899, resulting in an overall incidence rate of 13.9 per 1000 person-years, varying from more than 80/1000 py in children up to one-year old, to less than 12/1000 py in children over the age of 4. Topical ophthalmic ointments were prescribed in 87% of the episodes, of which 80% was antibiotic treatment. Fusidic acid gel was most frequently prescribed (69%). In most episodes general practitioners did not adhere to the guideline.
In 2001, the management of infectious conjunctivitis by Dutch general practitioners was not in accordance with the recommendations of the consensus-based guideline published five years previously, despite its wide distribution. In 2006 this guideline was revised. Its successful implementation requires more than distribution alone. Probably the most effective way to achieve this is by following a model for systemic implementation.
PMCID: PMC2034564  PMID: 17868475
15.  Shifts in doctor-patient communication between 1986 and 2002: a study of videotaped General Practice consultations with hypertension patients 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:62.
Departing from the hypotheses that over the past decades patients have become more active participants and physicians have become more task-oriented, this study tries to identify shifts in GP and patient communication patterns between 1986 and 2002.
A repeated cross-sectional observation study was carried out in 1986 and 2002, using the same methodology. From two existing datasets of videotaped routine General Practice consultations, a selection was made of consultations with hypertension patients (102 in 1986; 108 in 2002). GP and patient communication was coded with RIAS (Roter Interaction Analysis System). The data were analysed, using multilevel techniques.
No gender or age differences were found between the patient groups in either study period. Contrary to expectations, patients were less active in recent consultations, talking less, asking fewer questions and showing less concerns or worries. GPs provided more medical information, but expressed also less often their concern about the patients' medical conditions. In addition, they were less involved in process-oriented behaviour and partnership building. Overall, these results suggest that consultations in 2002 were more task-oriented and businesslike than sixteen years earlier.
The existence of a more equal relationship in General Practice, with patients as active and critical consumers, is not reflected in this sample of hypertension patients. The most important shift that could be observed over the years was a shift towards a more businesslike, task-oriented GP communication pattern, reflecting the recent emphasis on evidence-based medicine and protocolized care. The entrance of the computer in the consultation room could play a role. Some concerns may be raised about the effectiveness of modern medicine in helping patients to voice their worries.
PMCID: PMC1630692  PMID: 17064407
16.  Association between skin diseases and severe bacterial infections in children: case-control study 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:52.
Sepsis or bacteraemia, however rare, is a significant cause of high mortality and serious complications in children. In previous studies skin disease or skin infections were reported as risk factor. We hypothesize that children with sepsis or bacteraemia more often presented with skin diseases to the general practitioner (GP) than other children. If our hypothesis is true the GP could reduce the risk of sepsis or bacteraemia by managing skin diseases appropriately.
We performed a case-control study using data of children aged 0–17 years of the second Dutch national survey of general practice (2001) and the National Medical Registration of all hospital admissions in the Netherlands. Cases were defined as children who were hospitalized for sepsis or bacteraemia. We selected two control groups by matching each case with six controls. The first control group was randomly selected from the GP patient lists irrespective of hospital admission and GP consultation. The second control group was randomly sampled from those children who were hospitalized for other reasons than sepsis or bacteraemia. We calculated odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI). A two-sided p-value less than 0.05 was considered significant in all tests.
We found odds ratios for skin related GP consultations of 3.4 (95% CI: [1.1–10.8], p = 0.03) in cases versus GP controls and 1.4 (95% CI: [0.5–3.9], p = 0.44) in cases versus hospital controls. Children younger than three months had an odds ratio (cases/GP controls) of 9.2 (95% CI: [0.81–106.1], p = 0.07) and 4.0 (95% CI: [0.67–23.9], p = 0.12) among cases versus hospital controls. Although cases consulted the GP more often with skin diseases than their controls, the probability of a GP consultation for skin disease was only 5% among cases.
There is evidence that children who were admitted due to sepsis or bacteraemia consulted the GP more often for skin diseases than other children, but the differences are not clinically relevant indicating that there is little opportunity for GPs to reduce the risk of sepsis and/or bacteraemia considerably by managing skin diseases appropriately.
PMCID: PMC1564399  PMID: 16942626
17.  Treatment of heart failure in Dutch general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:40.
To study the relation between the prescription rates of selected cardiovascular drugs (ACE-inhibitors and Angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics, and combinations), sociodemographic factors (age, gender and socioeconomic class) and concomitant diseases (hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular accident, heart valve disease, atrial fibrillation, diabetes mellitus and asthma/COPD) among patients with heart failure cared for in general practice.
Data from the second Dutch National Survey in General Practice, conducted mainly in 2001. In this study the data of 96 practices with a registered patient population of 374.000 were used.
Data included diagnosis made during one year by general practitioners, derived from the electronic medical records, prescriptions for medication and sociodemographic characteristics collected via a postal questionnary (response 76%)
A diagnosis of HF was found with 2771 patients (7.1 in 1000). Their mean age was 77.7 years, 68% was 75 years or older, 55% of the patients were women. Overall prescription rates for RAAS-I, beta-blockers and diuretics were 50%, 32%, 86%, respectively, whereas a combination of these three drugs was prescribed in 18%. Variations in prescription rates were mainly related to age and concomitant diseases.
Prescription is not influenced by gender, to a small degree influenced by socioeconomic status and to a large degree by age and concomitant diseases.
PMCID: PMC1533835  PMID: 16822303
18.  The epidemiology of suicide and attempted suicide in Dutch general practice 1983–2003 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:45.
Many patients attempting or committing suicide consult their general practitioner (GP) in the preceding period, indicating that GPs might play an important role in prevention. The aim of the present study was to analyse the epidemiology of suicidal behaviour in Dutch General Practice in order to find possible clues for prevention.
Description of trends in suicide and suicide attempts occurring from 1983–2003 in the Dutch General Practice Sentinel Network, representing 1% of the Dutch population. The data were analysed with regard to: 1) suicidal behaviour trends and their association with household situation; 2) presence of depression, treatment of depression and referral rate by GPs; 3) contact with GP before suicide or suicide attempt and discussion of suicidal ideation.
Between 1983 and 2003 the annual number of suicide and suicide attempts decreased by 50%. Sixty percent of the patients who committed or attempted suicide were diagnosed as depressed, of whom 91% were treated by their GP with an antidepressant. Living alone was a risk factor for suicide (odds ratio 1.99; 95% CI 1.50 to 2.64), whereas living in a household of 3 or more persons was a relative risk for a suicide attempt (odds ratio 1.81; 95% CI 1.34 to 2.46). Referral to a psychiatrist or other mental health professionals occurred in 65% of the cases. GPs recalled having discussed suicidal ideation in only 7% of the cases, and in retrospect estimated that they had foreseen suicide or suicide attempts in 31% and 22% of the cases, respectively, if there had been contact in the preceding month.
With regard to the prescription of antidepressants and referral of suicidal patients to a psychiatrist, Dutch GPs fulfil their role as gatekeeper satisfactorily. However, since few patients discuss their suicidal ideation with their GP, there is room for improvement. GPs should take the lead to make this subject debatable. It may improve early recognition of depressed patients at risk and accelerate their referral to mental health professionals.
PMCID: PMC1291363  PMID: 16271136

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