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Can J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jun;17(6):363-8; quiz 405-6.

Irritable bowel syndrome in primary care: the patients' and doctors' views on symptoms, etiology and management.

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University Medical Center Utrecht, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



To facilitate the development of clinical guidelines and to direct future irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) research, insight into the perceptions of patients and general practitioners (GPs) regarding IBS is required.


To compare patients' and GPs' views on the symptomatology, etiology and treatment of IBS.


One hundred forty-two IBS patients and 100 GPs were requested to complete a structured questionnaire.


The response rates of the patients and GPs were 80% and 47%, respectively. Abdominal pain and bloating were considered to be the most bothersome symptoms in IBS, by both patients and GPs. Although all patients were diagnosed by their GP as having IBS, and 62% met the Manning criteria, only 18% fulfilled the Rome II criteria for IBS. Patients consider food intolerance and GPs regard lack of fibre as the main etiologic dietary factor. Many IBS patients expect a diagnostic work-up, but GPs generally restrict this to elderly patients. GPs start IBS management with dietary advice (94%), counselling (77%) and drug therapy (55%). Patients expect reassurance (47%) and drug treatment (37%), but dietary interventions are less appreciated (9%).


Patients and GPs have different perceptions of the efficacy of diagnostic and dietary interventions in IBS. GPs should explore the patients expectations and incorporate these in their approach to IBS patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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