, Volume 20, Issue 11, pp 749-758

Burden of Illness in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Comparing Rome I and Rome II Criteria

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Objectives: To evaluate the burden of illness in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), in terms of resource utilisation (direct and indirect) and health-related quality of life (HR-QOL), in individuals with IBS who meet Rome I and Rome II criteria.

Methods: A cross-sectional study, carried out by personal interview, on a representative sample (n = 2000) of the Spanish population. Individuals with suspected IBS were identified via a screening question and subsequently given an epidemiological questionnaire to complete. The questionnaire collected information on IBS symptoms, resource utilisation, and HR-QOL [Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form (SF-36)].

Results: Sixty-five individuals met Rome II criteria for IBS, while 146 individuals met exclusively Rome I criteria. Of Rome II individuals, 67.7% had consulted some type of healthcare professional in the previous 12 months, compared with only 41.8% of those individuals meeting exclusively Rome I criteria (p < 0.001). In the same vein, similar findings were observed (p < 0.01) for the variables: ‘diagnostic tests’ (35.4 vs 17.1%); ‘drug consumption’ (70.8 vs 45.2%); and ‘reduced performance in main activity’ (60 vs 27.4%). Compared with the general population, the study sample reported significantly worse HR-QOL scores in four dimensions of the SF-36 (‘bodily pain’, ‘vitality’, ‘social functioning’ and ‘role-emotional’. Additionally, individuals meeting Rome II criteria reported worse HR-QOL scores than those individuals meeting exclusively Rome I criteria, especially in the ‘bodily pain’ and ‘general health’ dimensions.

Conclusions: The burden of illness in IBS is important and correlated to the diagnostic criteria employed. Individuals who met Rome II criteria reported a higher level of resource utilisation and worse HR-QOL than individuals meeting exclusively Rome I criteria.