Objective: To describe and to analyze the changing effects of peptic ulcer disease over time.
Design: Variables relating to peptic ulcer disease from 1970-1986 were compared. The variables included rates of mortality, hospitalizations, operations, physician visits, and endoscopies, and the amount of disability-related loss of work and early retirement in six countries (Belgium, England and Wales, the Federal Republic of Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States).
Measurements: Nonparametric epidemiologic time-trend analysis. Main Results: The historic, slow, declining trend in mortality and hospitalization rates continued. The rate of operations for peptic ulcer disease exhibited a large, one-time reduction, then returned to a parallel declining trend, but at a lower level. The rate of physician visits declined by 50%. The greatest changes were found in the rate of endoscopy use and in disability-related loss of work and early retirement, where increasing trends were quickly followed by decreasing trends. The elderly, especially women, generally did not share many of these benefits.
Conclusions: The effects of new interventions can be understood more fully by examining several variables in many countries over a long time. Contrary to expectations, the effects of the widespread use of histamine H2 antagonists have been more indirect (affecting work loss and disability retirement more) than direct (affecting high-cost medical service use and mortality less).