Management of children with non-acute abdominal pain and diarrhea in Dutch primary care: a retrospective cohort study based on a routine primary care database (AHON)

Sophie M. Ansems*, Marjolein Y. Berger, Elaine Pieterse, Sjaantje Nanne, Gina G. Beugel, Ria P.E. Couwenberg, Gea A. Holtman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Objective: To describe the testing, prescription, referral, and follow-up management by general practitioners (GPs) for children presenting with non-acute abdominal pain and/or diarrhea in primary care. Design: Retrospective cohort study with one-year follow-up. Setting: Registry data from a Dutch primary care database (AHON) between 2015 and 2019. Subjects: Children aged 4–18 years old who presented by face-to-face consultation in primary care for non-acute abdominal pain and/or diarrhea (>7 days). Main outcome measures: We recorded the proportions of children who received (1) diagnostic testing, medicine prescriptions, follow-up consultations, and referrals at their first visit and (2) repeat consultations and referrals by one-year of follow-up. Results: Among the 2200 children (median age, 10.5 years; interquartile range, 7.0–14.6) presenting to a GP with non-acute abdominal pain and/or diarrhea, most reported abdominal pain (78.7%). At the first visit, GPs performed diagnostic testing for 32.2%, provided a prescription to 34.5%, and referred 2.5% to secondary care. Twenty-five percent of the children had a follow-up consultation within four weeks and 20.8% had a repeat consultation between four weeks and one year. Thirteen percent of the children were referred to secondary care by one year. However, only 1% of all children had documentation of an organic diagnosis needing management in secondary care. Conclusion: One-third of children received diagnostic testing or a medicine prescription. Few had a follow-up consultation and >10% was referred to pediatric care. Future research should explore the motivations of GPs why and which children receive diagnostic and medical interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10-Jul-2023

Keywords

  • abdominal pain
  • children
  • diarrhea
  • functional disorders
  • General practice

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