Objective Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) are common in the community. Many patients will consult a physician in primary care, but the burden that these diseases represent to secondary care has not been studied for many years. We therefore examined this subject.
Design Unselected consecutive new adult patient referrals were recruited during a 3-year period from January 2010 until December 2012. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively and the following data were recorded: age and sex of the patient, symptoms reported or signs noted at the first consultation, all investigations requested and ultimate diagnosis after investigation to the level deemed appropriate by the consulting physician.
Setting A luminal gastroenterology clinic at a teaching hospital.
Results There were a total of 613 new patient referrals (mean age 54.2 years, 357 (58.2%) female). In total, 214 (34.9%) patients were diagnosed as having an FGID. Among the 214 patients diagnosed with an FGID, 65.9% were female, compared with 54.1% without an FGID (p=0.005). Mean age of those with an FGID was 47.9 years, compared with 57.5 years among those without (p<0.001). The total number of symptoms reported was significantly higher among patients with an FGID, but the total number of investigations did not differ.
Conclusions More than one-third of new patient referrals to a luminal gastroenterology clinic were diagnosed with an FGID. These conditions form a large part of the workload in secondary care gastroenterology, and primary care commissioning needs to reflect this.
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