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Br J Gen Pract. Nov 1992; 42(364): 459–461.
PMCID: PMC1372267

Reasons for consultation in irritable bowel syndrome: symptoms and patient characteristics.


This study compared the characteristics of patients with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome who had either consulted or not consulted a general practitioner in the preceding two years. The subjects were identified by questionnaire in a community survey of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and samples of 24 consulting and 24 non-consulting patients were interviewed. The groups were well matched for demographic characteristics, although those who consulted for irritable bowel syndrome also consulted more frequently for other problems. The only significant differences in the pattern, frequency and severity of a range of symptoms, which included the Manning criteria, were that more of the consulting patients experienced visible abdominal distension and had a higher mean score for severity of pain than the non-consulters. Mean negative life event scores and anxiety and depression scores were higher in the group who consulted and more of these patients were concerned about the possible serious nature of their symptoms, including fear of cancer, emphasizing the importance of eliciting patients' beliefs and anxieties about the meaning of their symptoms.

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Selected References

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