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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Aug;13(8):1097-102.

One-year follow-up of newly diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome patients.

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Centro Español de Investigación Farmacoepidemiológica (CEIFE), Madrid, Spain.



Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder seen by general physicians.


We followed up a population-based cohort of newly diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome patients aged 20-79 years, to examine patterns of treatment, comorbidity and healthcare utilization. We used the UK General Practice Research Database as the source population. Individuals with other gastrointestinal diseases, cancer and pregnant women were not included. There were 2956 patients in our final cohort.


Irritable bowel syndrome patients were mainly young and middle-aged; only 12% were 60 years or older. The majority of patients were women (74%). There were no marked differences in terms of use of healthcare services or comorbidity status in the year before irritable bowel syndrome diagnosis as compared to the year after. Fourteen per cent of irritable bowel syndrome patients received no drug treatment at all. Among those treated, the first choice was an antispasmodic. Elderly patients (>60 years old) were more likely to receive drug treatment. Females had a slightly higher probability of being treated than men, except for the category of anti-diarrhoeal drugs.


This study has shown that irritable bowel syndrome patients are mainly young and female. We also found that treatment pattern varied according to age and gender. Elderly patients and females were at a higher risk of receiving drug treatment.

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