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Edited by A I M Bartelds. (Pp 162; € 15.) Utrecht: NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for health services research, 2002. ISBN 90-6905-555-4
The purpose of the book is to present data gathered by 67 general practitioners (GPs) in a national network of 47 sentinel stations covering 1% of the Dutch population. Sentinel GPs submit a weekly form to report certain illnesses, occurrences, and procedures. The book describes topic conditions for the “weekly returns”, practice populations, methods, scale, and continuity of reporting. Appropriate feedback to those providing data is given though the audience targeted is not defined. Frequencies by sex, age group, season, province group, and degree of urbanisation are presented in clear figures and tables accompanied with summary text.
Seventy eight topics and 14 incidental studies have been presented since 1970. The weekly returns for 2000 include 14 topics and 3 incidental studies. Important findings on topics are: the mildest season with influenza-like illnesses since 1970; more new diabetes mellitus patients in rural areas; more urethritis in the male 65–74 year group; rise in “stomach flu” among 0–4 year olds; and GPs seem to perform less rectal touch examinations for prostate complaints, despite more GP requests for PSA tests no increase in suspected prostate cancer is observed.
In addition, the book shows Continuous Morbidity Registration (CMR) data on influenza and chickenpox collected for European projects, as well as 31 scientific reports, 38 papers in medical journals, and 3 dissertations mentioned or presented with abstracts.
Sentinel surveillance data are extremely useful in obtaining, reinforcing of increasing commitment of politicians, the health sector and other key sectors to observe trends and to respond with prevention and control programmes. The book presents CMR as one of the projects in which information is collected on a continuous basis on problems and diseases submitted to the GP and action taken by the GP, and is specifically of interest for primary healthcare research institutes and GPs involved in sentinel projects.