Background: Although dyspepsia is common, management patterns in the United States are unknown.
Aim: To determine the pattern of dyspepsia evaluation and treatment over 20 years in a population-based cohort, and test the hypothesis that the management was influenced by dyspepsia subgroup and gender.
Methods: The validated Bowel Disease Questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of Olmsted County, Minnesota residents (1988–1990). Of the 835 survey respondents, 213 subjects were identified as having dyspepsia according to Rome I Criteria. The medical chart of each dyspeptic subject who had not denied research authorization (n = 206) was reviewed to identify all episodes of care for dyspepsia symptoms 10 years before and 10 years after the date the Bowel Disease Questionnaire was completed. Of these 206 subjects (mean age 47 years, 48% female), 34% had ulcer-like dyspepsia, 32% had dysmotility-like dyspepsia, and 37% had reflux-like dyspepsia.
Results: Nearly half (n = 98, 48%) had episodes of care for dyspepsia symptoms over 20 years. Of these 98 subjects, 49% had upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, 4% motility studies and 12% were tested for Helicobacter pylori. At the first visit of the episode of care closest to Bowel Disease Questionnaire completion, 72% were seen in primary care, 16% in emergency medicine and 2% in gastroenterology. In addition, 13% were referred to gastroenterology clinic within this episode. During the study period, 70% were given an ‘acid’ diagnosis, 7% a ‘motility’ diagnosis and 54% a ‘functional’ diagnosis; 78% received acid suppression agents (28% proton pump inhibitors), 18% psychotropic agents and 7% prokinetic agents. No significant association was found between gender and test usage, specialty referral or type of treatment, although women were three times less likely to receive proton pump inhibitors (odds ratio 3.3, 95% CI: 1.2–9.1). Symptom severity, frequency and pattern were risk factors for health care seeking in dyspepsia.
Conclusions: Delivery of care for dyspepsia was similar among dyspepsia subgroups and in men and women.