Gale, C.R., Edington, J., Coles, S.J. and Martyn, C.N.
Patterns of prescribing of nutritional supplements in the United Kingdom
Clinical Nutrition, 20, (4), . (doi:10.1054/clnu.2001.0396).
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Background and Aims: A large number of prescriptions are issued for nutritional supplements under British National Formulary classifications 9.4.1 (foods for special diets) and 9.4.2 (enteral feeds), but little is known about the characteristics of the patients who receive them. We used the General Practice Research Database to examine patterns of prescribing of these supplements.
Methods: We selected patients who had been prescribed supplements under classifications 9.4.1 and 9.4.2 during 1996–1997. Descriptive statistics were used to examine how prescribing varied.
Results: 28644 patients received prescriptions during 1996–1997. Among the 27413 (96%) patients prescribed supplements for oral use, 14750 received supplements for enteral nutrition alone, 8122 received supplements for special diets alone and 4541 had both types of supplement. 51% of patients receiving supplements for special diets were <18 years. The commonest diagnoses among such children were milk intolerance (24%) and malnutrition (17%). 94% of patients receiving supplements for enteral nutrition were adult, 52% of whom had cancer or cardiovascular disease. Only 4% of patients had weight and height recorded prior to first prescription.
Conclusions: The GPRD provides valuable information on the characteristics of patients prescribed nutritional supplements. But because only limited data are available on their nutritional status prior to supplementation, it is hard to assess whether general practitioners are prescribing these supplements appropriately.
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