RATIONALE, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study is to investigate the prevalence of patients seeking care due to different musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) at primary health care centres (PHCs), to chart different factors such as symptoms, diagnosis and actions prescribed for patients that visited the PHCs due to MSD and to make comparisons regarding differences due to gender, age and rural or urban PHC.
METHODS: Patient records (2000) for patients in working age were randomly selected equally distributed on one rural and one urban PHC. A 3-year period was reviewed retrospectively. For all patient records' background data, cause to the visit and diagnosis were registered. For visits due to MSD, type and location of symptoms and actions to resolve the patients problems were registered. Data was analysed using cross tabulation, multidimensional chi-squared.
RESULTS: The prevalence of MSD was high; almost 60% of all patients were seeking care due to MSD. Upper and lower limb problems were most common. Symptoms were most prevalent in the young and middle age groups. The patients got a variety of different diagnoses, and between 13 and 35% of the patients did not receive a MSD diagnose despite having MSD symptoms. There was a great variation in how the cases were handled.
CONCLUSIONS: The present study points out some weaknesses regarding diagnostics and management of MSD in primary care.