A measure of the validity of the International Classification of Primary Care in the classification of reasons for encounter

Helena Britt


Objective: to assess the concurrent validity of the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) in the classification of patient reasons for encounter.
Design: Analyses of utilisation of ICPC codes in classifying patient reasons for encounter (RFEs).
Setting: primary health care.
Subjects: 146,940 patient RFEs recorded by general practitioners in an Australian National survey.
Main outcome measures: Relative frequency of utilisation, classed as: frequent (>5/1,000 contacts); intermediate (1_5/1,000); marginal (0.5_1/1,000); or rare(<0.5/1,000 contacts). Relative use of 'rag-bag' codes which group multiple concepts.
Results: Of 1,371 available codes 76.7% were used at least once. Over two-thirds of all RFEs were classified in Components 1 (symptoms/complaints) or 7 (diagnoses/disease), in which 93.8% of rubrics were selected. Only 48 ICPC codes accounted for 65.5% of all RFEs. Codes never used totalled 319, only 43 of these being in Components 1 and 7. Only 3.3% of RFEs were classified in the 86 identified 'rag-bag' codes. In relative terms, the proportion of RFEs associated with the eye (19.6%) and the male genital system (17.6%) coded in 'rag-bags' was high.
Conclusion: ICPC was found to be a valid tool with which to classify RFEs, but some suggestions for improving future versions of the classification are put forward.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v6i2.203


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