Primary healthcare utilisation and self-rated health among patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What are the impacts of comorbidities, gastrointestinal symptom burden, sense of coherence and stress?

Norlin AK1, Faresjö Å2, Falk M2, Jones MP3, Walter S4.

Author informationJ Psychosom Res. 2019 Apr;119:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2019.01.015. Epub 2019 Jan 25.


Author information

Division of Community Medicine, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden. Electronic address: anna-karin.norlin@liu.se.

Division of Community Medicine, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden.

Psychology Department, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden.


OBJECTIVES: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disease associated with impaired quality of life and an increased use of healthcare services. Self-ratings of health have proven a powerful predictor of health outcomes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the unique impacts of comorbidities, gastrointestinal symptoms, perceived stress and sense of coherence on the number of healthcare contacts and self-rated health of IBS patients in Swedish primary care.

METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, 186 primary-care IBS patients and 360 non-IBS patients (as a reference group) were administrated a test battery of validated questionnaires. Data on comorbidities and healthcare-seeking frequency were obtained from a registry.

RESULTS: In the reduced multivariable logistic regression model, average days of abdominal pain/week (OR?=?0.83, 95% CI?=?0.72-0.96), age (OR?=?0.95, 95% CI?=?0.92-0.97) and sense of coherence (OR?=?1.07, 95% CI?=?1.03-1.11) remained independent, statistically significant predictors of IBS (and non-IBS) patients reporting good health. Only the number of comorbidities in general (OR?=?1.22, 95% CI?=?1.14-1.32) and sleep disorders in particular (OR?=?5.40, 95% CI?=?1.85-15.76) independently predicted high levels of primary healthcare utilisation among IBS patients.

CONCLUSION: Lack of gastrointestinal symptoms, a high sense of coherence and younger age were associated with better self-rated health in both IBS and non-IBS patients. The number of comorbidities in general and sleep disorders in particular were associated with frequent PHC contacts in IBS patients. The association between frequent primary-care contacts and sleep disorders was not seen in the control group, indicating a unique association with IBS patients.

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