Episode of care: a core concept in family practice

J Fam Pract. 1996 Feb;42(2):161-7.


The new Institute of Medicine definition of primary care requires that primary care clinicians address the large majority of personal health care needs of their patients. The unit of assessment for this is the episode of care, defined as a health problem from its first encounter with a health care provider through the completion of the last encounter. An episode of care is distinct from an episode of disease or illness. In this article, episode-of-care date from Dutch family practice, classified with the International Classification of Primary Care, illustrate this approach. Data on women 25 to 44 years of age are presented. The top 20 new reasons for encounter and new episodes of care as well as the relations between a reason for encounter (headache) and disease (sinusitis) support the potential of episode-oriented epidemiology and some important clinical considerations in family practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Episode of Care*
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Sinusitis / complications
  • Sinusitis / diagnosis