Non-GI issues exert most powerful influence on IBS patient ‘wellness’

Non-biomedical factors exerted a stronger effect on the self-reported health of patients with irritable bowel syndrome than disease symptoms themselves, according to new data.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences administered a test battery to 234 Rome III-positive irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients (average symptom duration, 16.2 years; mean age, 41 years; 78.2% women). In addition to gathering self-reported health (SRH) data, researchers used psychometrically validated measures to gauge well-being in three domains: somatic, psychological and social.

jeffrey lackner 

Jeffrey M. Lackner

Most strongly correlated with SRH were somatization, depression, fatigue, stress, anxiety and medical comorbidities (P<.05). IBS symptom severity was weakly associated with SRH (P<.05). A final regression analysis linked 41.3% of the SRH score variance (P<.001) with significant predictors including fatigue, medical comorbidities, somatization and negative social interactions.

“We were actually surprised there was not a stronger relationship between IBS symptoms and self-reported health,” Jeffrey M. Lackner, PsyD, director of the University of Buffalo Behavioral Medicine Clinic, said in a press release. “Oftentimes, patients’ perceptions are at odds with medical reality. It’s a much more complex, cognitive process that factors in a number of medical and social factors that are not necessarily on a physician’s radar screen.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.