News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Childhood respiratory illnesses and primary care

‘Big data’ study shows high impact of childhood respiratory illnesses on primary care practices

A study using ‘big data’ has found that childhood respiratory illnesses, especially during the first two years of life, have a big impact on New Zealand primary care general practice (GP) workloads.

The large cohort study of 36 primary care practices from the greater Wellington region looked at data from children presenting to their GP with respiratory illness, describing variation over six years.

The research led by Professor Tony Dowell from the University of Otago, Wellington showed that respiratory conditions constituted 46 per cent of all child general practitioner consultations with a remarkably stable year-on-year pattern of seasonal peaks.

“For the first time, using a new way of accessing the free text in GP notes, we have been able to investigate and measure impact on primary care practices of these childhood illnesses,” says Professor Dowell.

“The information will help towards more effective planning of ways of delivering health services leading to better health outcomes.

“The findings and methods have relevance to many countries, and the use of primary care ‘big data’ in this way can be applied to other health conditions,” he says.

The team reviewed the records from 77,582 children enrolled to estimate the presentation of childhood respiratory illness and service use. They analysed the data over six years from January 2008 to December 2013.

The researchers used a natural language processing software inference algorithm to analyse the large amount of data.

The research found that upper respiratory tract infection was the most common respiratory category accounting for 21.0 per cent of all childhood consultations, followed by ear infections (12.2 per cent), wheeze-related illness (9.7 per cent), throat infection (7.4 per cent) and lower respiratory tract infection (4.4 per cent).

Almost 70 per cent of children presented to their general practitioner with at least one respiratory condition in their first year of life. This dropped to approximately 25 per cent for children aged 10–17.

“This cohort represents 268,919 person-years of data and over 650,000 unique consultations,” Professor Dowell says.

The study appears in the British Medical Journal.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Kakī: World’s Rarest Wading Bird Released In Mackenzie Basin

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the birds will add to the 60 released into the Tasman valley earlier this month, significantly boosting the wild population. More>>


IHC Tribute: Colin Meads

"While Colin is best known for rugby, to us he is one of a small number of distinguished IHC New Zealand Life Members recognised for their significant support for people with intellectual disabilities," says IHC Chief Executive Ralph Jones. More>>


Howard Davis Review: Tilting at Turbines - The Trip to Spain

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have now both broken the Big Fifty barrier, which seems to have brought a whole new level of angst to their midlife adventures ... More>>

Review: A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has accepted the challenge of this heart-touching tragedy and largely succeeded. More>>


NZ's First Male IAAF Gold: Tom Walsh's Historic Shot Put Victory

Although feeling very sore but with a great feeling Tom Walsh took his place as number one on the victory dais to receive his much deserved gold medal. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Q&A: Hard To Find Books

"Unfortunately we are in crisis and this friendly dinosaur faces extinction… Our only hope is to try and raise funds to buy the building and restore it to its glory, either fully funded or with a viable deposit." More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland