Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 40, Issue 8, pp 1763–1769 | Cite as

Comparison of bowel patterns in hispanics and non-Hispanic whites

  • Marc J. Zuckerman
  • Luis G. Guerra
  • Douglas A. Drossman
  • Jaime A. Foland
  • Gavin G. Gregory
Intestinal Disorders, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Immunology, and Microbiology


Survey questionnaires can be used to characterize normal bowel habits and the prevalence of bowel dysfunction. To determine whether ethnic and sex-related differences in bowel patterns exist between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, we conducted a survey of a nonpatient population in El Paso, on the U.S.-Mexico border. A forced-choice, self-report questionnaire was distributed to 1014 subjects and returned by 1000. Data from the 905 Hispanic and non-Hispanic white subjects were compared. Stool frequency was analyzed by multiple linear regression, and bowl dysfunction variables were analyzed by stepwise logistic regression, in ethnic and sex groups. Data were also analyzed controlling for age, socioeconomic status, dietary factors, and use of laxatives. There was a significant sex difference in mean number of stools per week reported (P<0.0001): Hispanic males greater than Hispanic females (8.6 vs 7.5) and non-Hispanic white males greater than non-Hispanic white females (9.3 vs 7.2). The frequency of irritable bowel syndrome-type symptoms was greater in females than males (23.4% vs 9.6%,P<0.001) and was less in Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites (16.9% vs 21.8%,P<0.05), but a significant ethnic difference was not found after controlling for covariates. Additionally, females reported more alternating bowel pattern (44.0% vs 28.5%,P<0.001) and constipation (25.5% vs 12.4%,P<0.01) than males, and non-Hispanic white females more abdominal pain than the other subgroups (P<0.05). Ethnic differences in dietary factors that may be relevant to bowel function were identified. This survey of a biethnic nonpatient population shows that, for both Hispanic as well as non-Hispanic whites, males have a greater stool frequency than females and there are sex differences in the prevalence of bowel dysfunction. Hispanics did not differ from non-Hispanic whites in stool frequency, while the finding of an ethnic difference in the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome requires further study for clarification.

Key Words

bowel habit bowel pattern constipation diarrhea epidemiology irritable bowel syndrome 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc J. Zuckerman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Luis G. Guerra
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Douglas A. Drossman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jaime A. Foland
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gavin G. Gregory
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of GastroenterologyTexas Tech University Health SciencesEl Paso
  2. 2.Division of Digestive DiseasesUniversity of North CarolinaChapel Hill
  3. 3.Department of Mathematical SciencesThe University of TexasEl PasoTexas

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