IBS Plays Minor Role in Overall Patient Health

Article

IBS symptoms play a minor role, according to a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, which asked patients to rate their overall health.

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who rated their overall health said their symptoms played just a minor role, according to research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Jeffrey M. Lackner, PsyD, and colleagues from the University at Buffalo asked 234 IBS patients (mean age=41 years, 78% female) to assess their overall health, including somatic or medically unexplained symptoms, psychological factors, and social factors, on a 5-point scale.

Patients identified somatization, depression, fatigue, stress, anxiety, and medical comorbidities as variables with the strongest self-rated of health (SRH). Overall, IBS symptoms were weakly associated with SRH.

Lackner noted non-biomedical factors “may be more important to perceived health than health care professionals have ever suspected. It’s a much more complex, cognitive process that incorporates a number of medical and social factors that are not necessarily on a physician’s radar screen.”

SRH is critical, according to Lackner, because it has been found to be a “stronger and robust predictor for mortality and morbidity, even when controlled for the presence of disease symptoms.”

In a candid interview with the journal’s editor, Lackner continued his discussion. (You can listen to the podcast here.)

“SRH are associated with psychological (anxiety, stress, depression), social (negative interactions), and extraintestinal somatic factors (fatigue, somatization, medical comorbidities),” wrote the authors. “The severity of IBS symptoms appears to have a relatively modest role in how IBS patients describe their health in general.”

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