Trends in primary care in the United Kingdom were studied using the diagnostic information available at Intercontinental Medical Statistics Ltd (IMS) for 1969-80. Total consultation rates overall showed an increase until 1978 when they started to decline. Diseases of the respiratory system showed a decline for first consultations. Diseases of the musculoskeletal and connective tissue and diseases of the nervous system and sense organs showed an increase. Diseases of the respiratory system, circulatory system, and mental disorders accounted for 15.4%, 11.2%, and 9.6% respectively of the total consultations in 1980. Neuroses and personality disorders accounted for the highest consultation rates in general practice. This study identifies areas for further research in general practice and the potential of this data base, if expanded, for the continuous monitoring of morbidity in primary care.
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