Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Family Practice and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Development of a diagnostic protocol for dizziness in elderly patients in general practice: a Delphi procedure

Otto R Maarsingh1*, Jacquelien Dros2, Henk C van Weert2, François G Schellevis13, Patrick J Bindels24 and Henriette E van der Horst1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Practice and Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of General Practice, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 NIVEL, the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands

4 Department of General Practice, Erasmus University Medical Center, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Family Practice 2009, 10:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-12

Published: 7 February 2009

Abstract

Background

Dizziness in general practice is very common, especially in elderly patients. The empirical evidence for diagnostic tests in the evaluation of dizziness is scarce. Aim of our study was to determine which set of diagnostic tests should be part of a diagnostic protocol for evaluating dizziness in elderly patients in general practice.

Methods

We conducted a Delphi procedure with a panel of 16 national and international experts of all relevant medical specialities in the field of dizziness. A selection of 36 diagnostic tests, based on a systematic review and practice guidelines, was presented to the panel. Each test was described extensively, and data on test characteristics and methodological quality (assessed with the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies, QUADAS) were presented. The threshold for in- or exclusion of a diagnostic test was set at an agreement of 70%.

Results

During three rounds 21 diagnostic tests were selected, concerning patient history (4 items), physical examination (11 items), and additional tests (6 items). Five tests were excluded, although they are recommended by existing practice guidelines on dizziness. Two tests were included, although several practice guidelines question their diagnostic value. Two more tests were included that have never been recommended by practice guidelines on dizziness.

Conclusion

In this study we successfully combined empirical evidence with expert opinion for the development of a set of diagnostic tests for evaluating dizziness in elderly patients. This comprehensive set of tests will be evaluated in a cross-sectional diagnostic study.