Objective: Dyspepsia is common, and the condition is often chronic, with a relapsing and remitting nature. Factors influencing the decision to consult a physician with symptoms remain unclear.
Methods: The authors conducted a 10-yr follow-up longitudinal survey of individuals originally involved in a community-screening program for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). All surviving, traceable participants were contacted by validated postal dyspepsia questionnaire. Baseline demographic data, dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptom data, and quality of life at study entry were already on file. Consent to examine primary care records was requested, and data regarding nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and aspirin use, and dyspepsia and IBS-related consultations over the 10-yr study period were extracted from these.
Results: Of 8,407 individuals originally involved, 3,266 (39%) gave consent to examination of primary care records. The mean age of included individuals was 55 yr, and 1,467 (45%) were male. 1,738 (53%) had dyspepsia, and 729 (42%) of these consulted a primary care physician as a result. Following multivariate logistic regression, H. pylori infection (odds ratio [OR] 1.76, 99% confidence interval [CI] 1.30-2.39), lower socioeconomic status (OR 1.68, 99% CI 1.02-2.76), frequent (OR 2.61, 99% CI 1.69-4.01) or severe (OR 1.87, 99% CI 0.99-3.52) symptoms, and increasing age (OR per year 1.06, 99% CI 1.0-1.11) were independent risk factors for consultation.
Conclusions: Reasons for consulting a physician with dyspepsia are multifactorial, but H. pylori infection, lower socioeconomic status, frequent or severe symptoms, and increasing age are independent predictors of consultation.