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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Jul 15;26(2):237-48.

Costs of health care for irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, functional diarrhoea and functional abdominal pain.

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Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7080, USA.



To provide estimates of actual costs to deliver health care to patients with functional bowel disorders, and to assess the cost impact of symptom severity, recency of onset, and satisfaction with treatment.


We enrolled 558 irritable bowel (IBS), 203 constipation, 243 diarrhoea and 348 abdominal pain patients from primary care and gastroenterology clinics at a health maintenance organization within weeks of a visit. Costs were extracted from administrative claims. Symptom severity, satisfaction with treatment and out-of-pocket expenses were assessed by questionnaires.


Average age was 52 years, 27% were males, and 59% participated. Eighty percent were seen in primary care clinics. Mean annual direct health care costs were $5049 for IBS, $6140 for diarrhoea, $7522 for constipation and $7646 for abdominal pain. Annual out-of-pocket expenses averaged $406 for treatment of IBS symptoms, $294 for diarrhoea, $390 for constipation and $304 for abdominal pain. Lower gastrointestinal costs comprised 9% of total costs for IBS, 9% for diarrhoea, 6.5% for constipation and 9% for abdominal pain. In-patient care accounted for 17.5% of total costs (15.2% IBS).


Costs were affected by disease severity (increased), recent exacerbation of bowel symptoms (increased), and whether the patient was consulting for the first time (decreased).

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