Do Socio-Demographics Play a Role in the Prevalence of Red Flags and Pursuant Colonoscopies in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Cureus. 2022 May 19;14(5):e25137. doi: 10.7759/cureus.25137. eCollection 2022 May.


Anmol Mittal 1Shivani Gupta 1Faiz Afridi 2Anthony Dimitrey 1Sushil Ahlawat 2


Author information

1Department of Internal Medicine, Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School, Newark, USA.

2Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School, Newark, USA.


Background Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a "brain-gut disorder" that lacks laboratory, radiologic, or physical exam findings. Colonoscopies are not routinely performed unless "red flag" symptoms, such as bleeding or abnormal weight loss, are present. Socio-demographics have been implicated as sources of potential disparities in appropriate care. Aims We hypothesize that the incidence of red flag symptoms and pursuant colonoscopies differ by socio-demographic status in patients with IBS. Methods Patients diagnosed with IBS were extracted from the National Inpatient Sample 2001-2013 using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes. Gastrointestinal bleed, blood in stool, weight loss, and anemia were pooled into red flag symptoms. Colonoscopies during the admission were identified using ICD-9 procedural codes. Chi-square analysis and binomial logistic regression were used to evaluate potential disparities with α<0.01. Results Patients with Medicaid or Medicare or those without insurance had higher odds of presenting with red flag symptoms compared to those with private insurance. Medicaid patients and uninsured patients had higher odds of undergoing colonoscopies. All patients that were not Caucasian had higher odds of presenting with red flags and subsequently undergoing colonoscopies. Older patients had higher odds of presenting with concerning red flag symptoms but lower odds of undergoing colonoscopies. Conclusions The incidence of red flag symptoms and performance of colonoscopies differed by socio-demographics in patients with IBS. Patients with non-private or those without insurance were more likely to have red flags and undergo a colonoscopy. Age and race also increased rates of red flag symptoms while having a mixed effect on pursuant colonoscopies. This may represent discrepancies in healthcare utilization in a vulnerable population.



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