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Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2012 Mar;21(3):261-8. doi: 10.1002/pds.2243. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Health problems most commonly diagnosed among young female patients during visits to general practitioners and gynecologists in France before the initiation of the human papillomavirus vaccination program.

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Pharmacoepidemiology, CHU-Lyon, Lyon, France.



Background rates for common health problems have seldom been estimated to facilitate interpretation of signals that may occur after a new public health intervention. Background rates of diagnoses from general practitioners (GPs) and gynecologists (GYNs) were assessed before the implementation of human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization program.


This cross-sectional study used data collected in 2006 in France. All visits of women (aged 11-23 years) to a GP or a GYN participating in the longitudinal patient data (LPD) network were considered. Diagnoses and symptoms were retrieved and classified according to the International Classification of Primary Care. Only diagnoses made in ≥ 1% of visits were reported in primary analyses. Independent analyses were performed for visits to GPs and GYNs and for adolescents and young adults. Finally, the rates of pre-specified health problems of interest (e.g., because of their potential identification as signals after HPV immunization) were computed from processed diagnostic data, using time windows consistent with HPV vaccination scheme.


About 380,813 GP and 36,329 GYN visits were analyzed. Acute upper respiratory infections were the most frequently recorded diagnoses by GPs, accounting for 11,783 per 100,000 visits per year. Visits related to the respiratory system accounted for 10 of the 23 most frequent diagnoses by GPs. Genital candidiasis was the most frequent GYN diagnosis, accounting for 4746 per 100,000 visits per year. Most GYN visits were for pregnancy-related issues or menstrual problems. The main diagnoses were similar in adolescents compared with young adults in both GP and GYN settings. Pre-specified health problems occurred at high rates, as exemplified by acne that was diagnosed in 0.8% of patients during time windows consistent with HPV immunization.


Diagnostic data processed from electronic health records identified the rates of common health events experienced by young female patients routinely visiting their GP or GYN before HPV immunization. Such rates may prove useful in interpreting adverse events reported after the launch of new medical interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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