The general practitioner's approach to irritable bowel syndrome: from intention to practice.Dig Liver Dis 2005; 37(12):934-9DL
Although general practitioners play a critical role in the management of irritable bowel syndrome because they deal with the most patients, guidelines are developed mainly by specialists.
To evaluate the clinical features of irritable bowel patients and the general practitioners' approach to irritable bowel syndrome in Italy.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
A questionnaire focusing on the management of this syndrome was completed by 28 general practitioners. Clinical features and diagnostic and treatment measures taken in 229 patients were analysed.
Only 35.7% of the general practitioners were familiar with the Rome II criteria. Changes in bowel habits and abdominal pain/discomfort were the most common symptoms. Constipation (74.2%) was more frequent as the main symptom than diarrhoea. Routine blood tests (76.4%) and abdominal ultrasound (42.2%) were requested more frequently than colonoscopy (31.1%). At least one specialist consultation was recommended in 63.3% of patients. Drugs (mainly antispasmodics) were prescribed more frequently for diarrhoea (91.4%) than for constipation (55.7%).
General practitioners are little acquainted with the Rome II criteria. Diagnostic tests and specialist consultations are often recommended; antispasmodics are the most frequently prescribed drug. Guidelines should be developed together by general practitioners and gastroenterologists to effectively manage patients at a lower cost.