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Prevalence of lower gastrointestinal symptoms and associated consultation behaviour in a British elderly population determined by face-to-face interview

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard Curless, Emeritus Professor Richard Thomson, Professor Roger Barton


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Background The incidence of organic lower gastrointestinal disease increases with age. However, the prevalence of lower gastrointestinal symptoms in a British elderly population is unclear, with previous epidemiological studies focusing on younger populations Furthermore, there is little information about consultation behaviour associated with lower gastrointestinal symptoms. Alin. To determine the prevalence of lower gastrointestinal symptoms reported by randomly selected, elderly community subjects. Methods. An age- and sex-stratified random sample of patients aged 65 years and over was drawn from a general practice register (n = 842). Those who had not refused to participate in an initial postal survey were invited to participate in a semi-structured physician interview at their own home to assess lower gastrointestinal symptomatology (n = 745). Non-participation bias and service use of all subjects were assessed from practice records. Results. Five hundred and ninety-six (71%) patients were interviewed, Fifty-seven per cent of all participants had at least one lower gastrointestinal symptom. Individual symptoms and symptom complexes were common, affecting up to 32% of subjects. Only 24% of subjects with lower gastrointestinal symptoms consulted their general practitioner (GP) with such symptoms in the previous year. As few as 31% of subjects with new onset of the significant symptoms of rectal bleeding abdominal pain, and a change in bowel habit consulted their GP. Conclusion, Lower gastrointestinal symptoms are common in a British elderly population and an important reason for GP consultation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chaplin A, Curless R, Thomson R, Barton R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of General Practice

Year: 2000

Volume: 50

Issue: 459

Pages: 798-802

ISSN (print): 0960-1643

ISSN (electronic): 1478-5242

Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners


PubMed id: 1313820