A study of infectious intestinal disease in England: plan and methods of data collection

Commun Dis Public Health. 1999 Jun;2(2):101-7.


The Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, set up in 1989 by the Department of Health in response to national epidemics of foodborne infection, considered the available evidence and commissioned a study of infectious intestinal disease (IID) in England. Seventy practices (with 489,500) patients overall) recruited from the Medical Research Council's General Practice Research Framework between August 1993 and January 1995 collected data for one year. The practice populations were representative of practices in England by area and urban/rural location, but with fewer small and affluent practices. There were five main components. i) A population cohort of 9776 (40% of those eligible) were enrolled to estimate the incidence and aetiology of IID in the community, and a large proportion were followed up. A median of 10% of patients on practice age-sex registers had moved away or died. ii) A nested case control component based on cases ascertained in the cohort was used to identify risk factors for IID in the community. iii) In a case control component used to identify risk factors and to estimate the incidence and aetiology of IID presenting in 34 general practices 70% of the 4026 cases returned risk factor questionnaires, 75% submitted stools, and matched controls were found for 75% of cases. iv) An enumeration component was used to estimate the incidence of IID presenting to general practitioners (GPs) in 36 practices and the proportion of specimens sent routinely for microbiological examination. v) In a socioeconomic costs component used to estimate the burden of illness of IID in the community and presenting to GPs 63% of those who returned a risk factor questionnaire also returned a socioeconomic questionnaire and were representative by age, sex, and social class. Despite variable enrolment and compliance the study sample had sufficient power for the multivariable analysis. The characteristics associated with low enrollment and compliance must be considered in the interpretation of the main study results.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Data Collection* / methods
  • England / epidemiology
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Research Design*