The birth of the International Classification of Primary Care (2002)

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The story of ICPC as published in 2002 by Henk Lamberts & Maurice Wood




Twenty years ago, in early spring, we were sitting in the Japanese garden of the WHO Headquarters in Geneva. It was the last day of a week of hard work, together with Sue Meads from the US National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS), on the Reason for Encounter Classification. Since 1978, WHO had—with fiscal support from the NCHS—invited us several times to come over and prepare a classification representing patients’ (‘subjective’) demand for care. This seemed important for health care planning, as an addition to data collected with ICD reflecting ‘objective’ patients’ need from a medical perspective. Internationally, the focus of ICD was shifting from mortality towards morbidity, and thus the reasons to visit a doctor became of more interest. The three of us seemed to be rather well equipped for this exercise: two family physicians (FPs) with experience in family practice morbidity statistics, and a taxonomer who, as a country doctor’s daughter, felt equally sceptical about many diagnoses and the utility of the resulting interventions.

Available at ; Family Practice 2002; 19: 433–435.



Created 04/10/2011 - Last modified 29/05/2016