Effects of Irritable Bowel Syndrome on Daily Activities Vary Among Subtypes Based on Results From the IBS in America Survey

Ballou S1, McMahon C2, Lee HN2, Katon J2, Shin A3, Rangan V2, Singh P2, Nee J2, Camilleri M4, Lembo A2, Iturrino J2. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Aug 13. pii: S1542-3565(19)30891-2. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.08.016. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address: sballou@bidmc.harvard.edu.

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Clinical Enteric Neuroscience Translational and Epidemiological Research (CENTER), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is associated with significant disease burden and decreased quality of life (QOL). We investigated the effects of IBS on different areas of daily function and compared these among disease subtypes.

METHODS: The Life with IBS survey was conducted by Gfk Public Affairs & Corporate Communications from September through October 2015. Respondents met Rome III criteria for constipation-predominant or diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-C and IBS-D, respectively). Data were collected from 3254 individuals (mean age, 47 years; 81% female; and 90% Caucasian) who met IBS criteria.

RESULTS: Respondents who were employed or in school (n = 1885) reported that IBS symptoms affected their productivity an average of 8.0 days out of the month and they missed approximately 1.5 days of work/school per month because of IBS. More than half the individuals reported that their symptoms were very bothersome. Individuals with IBS-C were more likely than with IBS-D to report avoiding sex, difficulty concentrating, and feeling self-conscious. Individuals with IBS-D reported more avoidance of places without bathrooms, difficulty making plans, avoiding leaving the house, and reluctance to travel. These differences remained when controlling for symptom bothersomeness, age, sex, and employment status. In exchange for 1 month of relief from IBS, more than half of the sample reported they would be willing to give up caffeine or alcohol, 40% would give up sex, 24.5% would give up cell phones, and 21.5% would give up the internet for 1 month.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the perceived effects of IBS symptoms on productivity are similar among its subtypes, patients with IBS-C and IBS-D report differences in specific areas of daily function.

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