Comorbidity and use of health-care services among irritable bowel syndrome sufferers.Scand J Gastroenterol 2007; 42(7):799-806SJ
Patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have more somatic and psychiatric comorbidity and use more health-care services for comorbid conditions than do other patients. Little is known about the frequency of comorbid symptoms among IBS sufferers in the general population and their influence on use of health-care facilities. The objective of this study was to compare the frequency of somatic and psychiatric symptoms between IBS sufferers and controls in the general population, and to study how comorbidity rates are distributed among consulters and non-consulters and how they predict the use of health care-services.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
By means of a questionnaire sent to 5000 randomly selected adults IBS was identified according to the Rome II criteria. The questionnaire also covered upper GI symptoms, non-GI somatic symptoms, depression and anxiety. A logistic regression analysis with 26 variables was carried out to determine the independent predictors of health-care seeking for GI and non-GI complaints.
The response rate was 73% and prevalence of IBS 5.1% (95% CI 4.4-5.8%). Dyspeptic symptoms, somatic extra-GI symptoms and psychiatric symptoms were reported by 45%, 69% and 51% of IBS sufferers, respectively, and 6%, 35% and 27%, of controls, respectively. Visiting a physician because of GI complaints was associated with disturbing abdominal symptoms, but not with depression or anxiety. Of the present GI conditions, only dyspeptic symptoms were associated with an increased consultation rate also for non-GI complaints.
In the general population, both IBS consulters and non-consulters demonstrate high rates of comorbidity. Seeking health care for abdominal complaints is associated with abdominal symptoms rather than psychiatric comorbidity.