Health-related quality of life and associated psychosocial factors in irritable bowel syndrome: A review
- Cite this article as:
- Luscombe, F.A. Qual Life Res (2000) 9: 161. doi:10.1023/A:1008970312068
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic recurring disorder with variable illness episodes that may continue for many years. Diagnosis is based on symptoms such as abdominal pain and irregular bowel habits. These symptoms, plus the influence of psychological factors and extraintestinal symptoms, adversely affect the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of individuals with IBS. This paper summarizes publications relating to the characteristics of IBS and associated HRQoL. Significantly lower scores on both the physical and mental health scales of the Short Form-36 are reported for individuals with IBS symptoms as compared with asymptomatic controls and US norms. IBS negatively affects general health, vitality, social functioning, bodily pain, diet, sexual function, sleep, and is associated with lost time from work. IBS-specific instruments that incorporate many of these domains have recently become available. HRQoL appears to correlate with IBS symptom severity and influences decisions to seek medical care. Psychosocial problems are also linked with IBS in relation to health care utilization. However, the full burden of this painful illness is still unknown since only 25–60% of individuals suffering from IBS symptoms see a physician for their illness.