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Dig Liver Dis. 2002 May;34(5):332-8.

Fluctuation in dyspepsia subgroups over time. A three-year follow-up of patients consulting general practice for dyspepsia.

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Centre of Preventive Medicine, Glostrup University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.



General practitioners base their treatment and investigation on the symptoms presented by the patients. Subgroups of dyspepsia have been defined in order to guide management.


To study prospectively changes over time in the presentation of dyspepsia according to different subtypes in a general practitioner population.


Patients consulting the general practitioner because of dyspeptic complaints.


A random sample of general practitioner patients consulting with different dyspepsia subtypes (ulcer-like, reflux-like, dysmotility-like, uncharacteristic and relapsing dyspepsia) were studied three years after the initial consultation by postal questionnaires to the general practitioners (obtaining information from the patient records) and to the patients (obtaining self-reported symptoms during twelve months). The subtype of dyspepsia at baseline was compared to the subtype in the patient questionnaire.


Between 20 and 34% of the patients reported no dyspepsia after three years, with so significant difference between the subtypes. Changes from one subtype to another were common, ulcer-like and reflux-like often changed into dysmotility-like dyspepsia. Dysmotility-like dyspepsia was significantly more stable over time. Patients with more than one episode of dyspepsia changed subtype significantly less.


Most patients who presented with dyspepsia to the general practitioner still reported symptoms three years later. Few patients with dysmotility-like dyspepsia changed subtype over time, whereas changes from one subtype to another were common in other subtypes. This implies that dyspeptic patients could end up having dysmotility-like complaints possibly due to the lack of effective treatment for this condition, compared to the other dyspepsia subtypes.

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