In the first quarter of 2023, adults were more likely to visit the GP due to memory or concentration problems. This is evidenced by the latest quarterly update from March 2023. The quarterly study is part of Health Research for COVID-19. In this study, the GOR Network researches the health effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Network for Health Research in Disasters (GOR Network) publishes a quarterly update on this page, summarising key results from survey research and data from primary care providers. The aim is to provide information to municipalities, provinces and the national government of the Netherlands to assist them in formulating policies. 

Summary of research round 7

Research round 7 of the quarterly study among adults took place in March 2023. This is the fifth research round among adults, since the first two rounds only looked at young people. A summary of key results from research among adults is provided below. 

Increase in GP visits for a number of symptoms

Primary care data for January to March 2023 showed that adults visited their GP more frequently for a number of symptoms compared to the same period in 2019. Memory and concentration problems were significantly more common than last year and in the period before COVID-19. Where these symptoms are concerned, the difference compared to 2019 is growing steadily in each quarter. More information about possible explanations for this increase is provided in the news item about this research round. 

There was also a peak in heart palpitations and dizziness in the first quarter of 2023. In January, there was a brief peak in the number of people over 75 who visited their GP for shortness of breath.  

Slight decline in perceived health, despite minor improvements overall

The survey-based study seems to suggest that physical and mental health is generally stable or has improved slightly in this quarter. Despite that, the percentage of adults who perceive their health as good has decreased slightly. It is unclear why. In any case, the primary care data and the survey-based study do not show the same pattern. The results also differ when comparing the same symptom, such as memory and concentration problems. It is possible that a specific group of people who go to their GP for symptoms (such as older people aged 75 years and up) may be relatively less likely to complete the survey. 

Approach used in the quarterly study among adults 

The quarterly study is based on survey-based research and GP records. Between 13 and 27 March 2023, a total of 7,838 adults (aged 25 years and older) completed a survey on their mental and physical health. In addition, we look at data from GPs, as entered in the primary care database maintained by Nivel – the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research. GPs keep track of the symptoms and health conditions for which people visit their practice. The data comes from about 380 GP practices, offering healthcare services to roughly 1.6 million registered patients (9% of the Dutch population). We look at differences in age group, gender and province. This research round looked at primary care data from January through March 2023. 

Upcoming and previous research rounds 

Since March 2022, there has been a research round among adults every 3 months. The results of those research rounds are also available. The surveys for the next round will be completed in June 2023. The results of the previous research rounds among young people are available on the pages about the youth study