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Online follow-up of individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease using a patient-reported outcomes instrument: results of an observational study


Abstract Background Many individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) never visit their general practitioner. Therefore, prospective data about GERD and its natural history in the general population are scarce. The aims of this study were to assess symptoms over time and consultation reasons in an Internet population with GERD. Methods Visitors (18–79 years) to a GERD information website who completed the GerdQ self-assessment questionnaire were invited to participate. Follow-up GerdQ questionnaires were sent after 4, 12 and 24 weeks, and those who had a total GerdQ score ≥ 8 and responded to at least the baseline and 4-week questionnaires (within 2–7 weeks) were included in the analyses. Outcome in proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and non-PPI users was classified as symptom improvement, symptom persistence/stable symptoms, or symptom relapse according to GerdQ scores. Results A total of 403 non-PPI users (mean age 48 years, 40% male) and 304 PPI users (mean age 51 years, 41% male) were included. After 24 weeks, symptom improvement was present in 66% of non-PPI users (45/68) and 8% of PPI users (6/73), while persisting symptoms were reported by 24% (16/68) and 89% (65/73) respectively (baseline symptoms did not influence outcome at 24 weeks). Fifty-five percent of PPI users (116/210) and 37% of non-PPI users (76/207) who intended to visit a healthcare practitioner, performed one or more healthcare visits in the interim. Most frequently reported reason for consultation was persistence of symptoms. Conclusions GERD symptoms were persistent in the majority of PPI users during our 24-week follow-up, while almost two thirds of non-PPI users reported symptom improvement. Online follow-up of an Internet population with GERD is feasible.

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