Helicobacter pylori and dyspepsia: physicians' attitudes, clinical practice, and prescribing habits

Authors

  • H. J. O'Connor

    1. Department of Medicine, General Hospital, Tullamore, and Faculty of Medicine, University College Dublin, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland
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Dr H. J. O'Connor, Department of Medicine, General Hospital, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland. E-mail: oconnor_hj@hotmail.com

Abstract

Background:

Consensus guidelines have been published on the management of Helicobacter pylori infection and it is assumed that these guidelines are adhered to in clinical practice.

Aim:

To assess the changing attitudes of medical practitioners to H. pylori, and the impact of H. pylori infection on everyday clinical practice and prescribing patterns.

Methods:

Data for this review were gathered up to December 2000 from detailed review of medical journals, the biomedical database MEDLINE, and relevant abstracts.

Results:

Physician surveys show widespread acceptance of H. pylori as a causal agent in peptic ulcer disease. Gastroenterologists adopted H. pylori therapy for peptic ulcer earlier and more comprehensively than primary care physicians. Despite a low level of belief in H. pylori as a causal agent in nonulcer dyspepsia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), H. pylori therapy is widely prescribed for these conditions. Proton pump inhibitor-based triple therapy is the eradication regimen of choice by all physician groups. In routine clinical practice, there appears to be significant under-treatment of peptic ulcer disease with H. pylori therapy, but extensive use for nonulcer indications. Prescription of H. pylori treatment regimens of doubtful efficacy appears commonplace, and are more likely in primary care. Despite the advent of H. pylori therapy, the prescription of antisecretory therapy, particularly of proton pump inhibitors, continues to rise.

Conclusions:

Publication of consensus guidelines per se is not enough to ensure optimal management of H. pylori infection. Innovative and ongoing educational measures are needed to encourage best practice in relation to H. pylori infection. These measures might be best directed at primary care, where the majority of dyspepsia is managed.

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