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1.  Child and adolescent mental health care in Dutch general practice: time trend analyses 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:133.
Because most children and adolescents visit their general practitioner (GP) regularly, general practice is a useful setting in which child and adolescent mental health problems can be identified, treated or referred to specialised care. Measures to strengthen Dutch primary mental health care have stimulated cooperation between primary and secondary mental health care and have led to an increase in the provision of social workers and primary care psychologists. These measures may have affected GPs' roles in child and adolescent mental health care. This study aims to investigate the identification and treatment of child and adolescent mental health problems in general practice over a five-year period (2004-2008).
Data of patients aged 0-18 years (N ranging from 37716 to 73432) were derived from electronic medical records of 42-82 Dutch general practices. Time trends in the prevalence of recorded mental health problems, prescriptions for psychotropic medication, and referrals to primary and secondary mental health care were analysed.
In 2008, 6.6% of children and 7.5% of adolescents were recorded as having mental health problems; 15.2% of these children and 29.4% of these adolescents were prescribed psychotropic medication; 18.9% of these children and 22.9% of these adolescents were referred, mainly to secondary mental health care. Between 2004 and 2008, the percentages of children (chi-square: 22.06; p < 0.001) and adolescents (chi-square: 9.15; p = 0.003) who were diagnosed with mental health problems increased. An increase was also found in the percentage of children who were prescribed psychostimulants (chi-square: 8.29; p = 0.004). Prescriptions for antidepressants decreased over time in both age groups (children: chi-square: 6.80; p = 0.009; adolescents: chi-square: 13.52; p < 0.001). The percentages of children who were referred to primary (chi-square: 6.98; p = 0.008) and secondary mental health care (chi-square: 5.76; p = 0.02) increased over the years, whereas no significant increase was found for adolescents.
Although GPs' identification of mental health problems and referrals to primary mental health care have increased, most referrals are still made to secondary care. To further strengthen primary mental health care, effective short-term interventions for child and adolescent mental health problems that can be applied in general practice need to be developed.
PMCID: PMC3267656  PMID: 22133283
2.  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
3.  Usefulness of primary care electronic networks to assess the incidence of chlamydia, diagnosed by general practitioners 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:72.
Chlamydia is the most common curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the Netherlands. The majority of chlamydia diagnoses are made by general practitioners (GPs). Baseline data from primary care will facilitate the future evaluation of the ongoing large population-based screening in the Netherlands. The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of electronic medical records for monitoring the incidence of chlamydia cases diagnosed in primary care in the Netherlands.
In the electronic records of two regional and two national networks, we identified chlamydia diagnoses by means of ICPC codes (International Classification of Primary Care), laboratory results in free text and the prescription of antibiotics. The year of study was 2007 for the two regional networks and one national network, for the other national network the year of study was 2005. We calculated the incidence of diagnosed chlamydia cases per sex, age group and degree of urbanization.
A large diversity was observed in the way chlamydia episodes were coded in the four different GP networks and how easily information concerning chlamydia diagnoses could be extracted. The overall incidence ranged from 103.2/100,000 to 590.2/100,000. Differences were partly related to differences between patient populations. Nevertheless, we observed similar trends in the incidence of chlamydia diagnoses in all networks and findings were in line with earlier reports.
Electronic patient records, originally intended for individual patient care in general practice, can be an additional source of data for monitoring chlamydia incidence in primary care and can be of use in assessing the future impact of population-based chlamydia screening programs. To increase the usefulness of data we recommend more efforts to standardize registration by (specific) ICPC code and laboratory results across the existing GP networks.
PMCID: PMC3143931  PMID: 21740536
4.  Primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases: a cost study in family practices 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:69.
Considering the scarcity of health care resources and the high costs associated with cardiovascular diseases, we investigated the spending on cardiovascular primary preventive activities and the prescribing behaviour of primary preventive cardiovascular medication (PPCM) in Dutch family practices (FPs).
A mixed methods design was used, which consisted of a questionnaire (n = 80 FPs), video recordings of hypertension- or cholesterol-related general practitioner visits (n = 56), and the database of Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (n = 45 FPs; n = 157,137 patients). The questionnaire and video recordings were used to determine the average frequency and time spent on cardiovascular primary preventive activities per FP respectively. Taking into account the annual income and full time equivalents of general practitioners, health care assistants, and practice nurses as well as the practice costs, the total spending on cardiovascular primary preventive activities in Dutch FPs was calculated. The database of Netherlands Information Network of General Practice was used to determine the prescribing behaviour in Dutch FPs by conducting multilevel regression models and adjusting for patient and practice characteristics.
Total expenditure on cardiovascular primary preventive activities in FPs in 2009 was €38.8 million (€2.35 per capita), of which 47% was spent on blood pressure measurements, 26% on cardiovascular risk profiling, and 11% on lifestyle counselling. Fifteen percent (€11 per capita) of all cardiovascular medication prescribed in FPs was a PPCM. FPs differed greatly on prescription of PPCM (odds ratio of 3.1).
Total costs of cardiovascular primary preventive activities in FPs such as blood pressure measurements and lifestyle counselling are relatively low compared to the costs of PPCM. There is considerable heterogeneity in prescribing behaviour of PPCM between FPs. Further research is needed to determine whether such large differences in prescription rates are justified. Striving for an optimal use of cardiovascular primary preventive activities might lead to similar health outcomes, but may achieve important cost savings.
PMCID: PMC3160896  PMID: 21733183
5.  Trends in sexually transmitted infections in the Netherlands, combining surveillance data from general practices and sexually transmitted infection centers 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:39.
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) care in the Netherlands is primarily provided by general practitioners (GPs) and specialized STI centers. STI surveillance is based on data from STI centers, which show increasing numbers of clients. Data from a GP morbidity surveillance network were used to investigate the distribution in the provision of STI care and the usefulness of GP data in surveillance.
Data on STI-related episodes and STI diagnoses based on ICPC codes and, for chlamydia, prescriptions, were obtained from GP electronic medical records (EMRs) of the GP network and compared to data from STI centers from 2002 to 2007. Incidence rates were estimated for the total population in the Netherlands.
The incidence of STI-consultations and -diagnoses increased substantially in recent years, both at GPs and STI centers. The increase in consultations was larger than the increase in diagnoses; Chlamydia incidence rose especially at STI centers. GPs were responsible for 70% of STI-related episodes and 80-85% of STI diagnoses. STI centers attract relatively younger and more often male STI-patients than GPs. Symptomatic STIs like Herpes genitalis and genital warts were more frequently diagnosed at GPs and chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis at STI centers.
GPs fulfill an important role in STI care, complementary to STI centers. Case definitions of STI could be improved, particularly by including laboratory results in EMRs. The contribution of primary care is often overlooked in STI health care. Including estimates from GP EMRs can improve the surveillance of STIs.
PMCID: PMC2886004  PMID: 20487552
6.  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

Results 1-6 (6)