Dizziness in primary care. Results from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey

J Fam Pract. 1989 Jul;29(1):33-8.


This study utilized data from the 1981 and 1985 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys to study dizziness, a frequently troublesome patient problem in family practice. These data indicate that family physicians and general practitioners see nearly 45% of all outpatients with dizziness. In primary care practices (family physicians, general practitioners, and general internists) the frequency of dizziness as a presenting complaint rises steadily with age, so that nearly 7% of patients aged 85 years and older present with that symptom. Women complain of dizziness more frequently than men, with this relationship being particularly prominent in older age categories. According to primary care physicians who gathered data for the 1981 and 1985 surveys, dizziness was the principal reason for visit (chief complaint) of 2.61% of patients aged 25 years and older (531 recorded encounters). Of these patients, 66.7% were women; 1.5% were hospitalized; 4.4% were referred to specialists; and 89.3% left with a drug prescription. Hypertension was the most frequent diagnosis recorded among these patients who complained of dizziness. Several of the most common diagnoses recorded for these visits (hypertension, diabetes, unspecified dizziness, and coronary arteriosclerosis) differ from common causes of dizziness reported by specialty clinics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dizziness / diagnosis
  • Dizziness / drug therapy
  • Dizziness / epidemiology*
  • Dizziness / etiology
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Infant
  • Internal Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteopathic Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States