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Mayo Clinic Report: Skin Problems, Joint Disorders Head List of Reasons People Visit Doctors

Skin disorders affect almost half of study population (Jan. 16)

A new study from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., shows that people most often visit their healthcare providers because of skin issues, joint disorders, and back pain. The findings may help researchers focus efforts to determine better ways to prevent and treat these conditions in large groups of people.

“Much research already has focused on chronic conditions, which account for the majority of healthcare utilization and costs in middle-aged and older adults,” said lead author Jennifer St. Sauver, PhD. “We were interested in finding out about other types of conditions that may affect large segments of the population across all age groups.”

The researchers used the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a comprehensive medical records linkage system, to track more than 140,000 Olmsted County, Minn., residents who visited healthcare providers between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2009. The investigators then categorized patient diagnoses into disease groups. The top groups included:

  • Skin disorders
  • Osteoarthritis and joint disorders
  • Back problems
  • Cholesterol problems
  • Upper respiratory conditions (not including asthma)
  • Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder
  • Chronic neurologic disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Diabetes

“Surprisingly, the most prevalent non-acute conditions in our community were not chronic conditions related to aging, such as diabetes and heart disease, but rather conditions that affect both genders and all age groups,” St. Sauver said.

For example, almost half of the study population was diagnosed with skin disorders — acne, cysts, and dermatitis — within the 5-year period. St. Sauver said that this finding presents an opportunity to determine why these skin-related diagnoses result in so many visits and to see whether alternative-care delivery approaches that require fewer visits are possible.

Source: Mayo Clinic; January 16, 2013.

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