Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

Community-based study of the incidence of gastrointestinal diseases in The Netherlands

A. M. M. Hoogenboom-Verdegaala1 p1, J. C. De Jonga2, M. Duringa1, R. Hoogenveena3 and J. A. Hoekstraa3

a1 Department of Water- and Food Microbiology of the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Virology of the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection, The Netherlands

a3 Department of Mathematics and Modelling of the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection, The Netherlands

Abstract

The incidence of gastrointestinal diseases was studied in a community-based study in four regions of The Netherlands. Two grades of severity were distinguished − 1: diarrhoea or vomiting and at least 2 additional symptoms within the period of 1 week, and 2: diarrhoea or vomiting and at least 2 additional symptoms occurring on the same day lasting at least 2 days within the period of 1 week. The incidence of gastrointestinal episodes was calculated to be 630 for grade 1 and 180 for grade 2 disease per 1000 person-years, after correction for age and sex. The incidence was higher for women than for men (relative risk 1·25) and lower for those in the 19–64-year-old age group when compared to those younger or older (relative risk 0·75 and 0·40. respectively). Independent of the degree of severity of the symptoms, about 20% of the patients had consulted a general practitioner, about half in person and half by telephone. It is concluded that community studies are essential to assess the real incidence of gastrointestinal diseases in the population.

(Accepted November 19 1993)

Correspondence:

p1 Present address of corresponding author: Department of Medical Microbiology. Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital. P.O. Box 9015. 6500 GS Nijmegen.

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