Back to Journals » Clinical Epidemiology » Volume 6

The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome

Authors Canavan C, West J, Card T

Received 26 September 2013

Accepted for publication 21 November 2013

Published 4 February 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 71—80

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S40245

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5


Caroline Canavan, Joe West, Timothy Card

Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Abstract: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional condition of the bowel that is diagnosed using clinical criteria. This paper discusses the nature of the diagnostic process for IBS and how this impacts epidemiological measurements. Depending on the diagnostic criteria employed, IBS affects around 11% of the population globally. Around 30% of people who experience the symptoms of IBS will consult physicians for their IBS symptoms. These people do not have significantly different abdominal symptoms to those who do not consult, but they do have greater levels of anxiety and lower quality of life. Internationally, there is a female predominance in the prevalence of IBS. There is 25% less IBS diagnosed in those over 50 years and there is no association with socioeconomic status. IBS aggregates within families and the genetic and sociological factors potentially underlying this are reviewed. Patients diagnosed with IBS are highly likely to have other functional disease and have more surgery than the general population. There is no evidence that IBS is associated with an increased mortality risk. The epidemiological evidence surrounding these aspects of the natural history is discussed.

Keywords: irritable bowel syndrome, epidemiology, prevalence, mortality, natural history


Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]