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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Sep 15;30(6):643-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2009.04074.x. Epub 2009 Jun 23.

Irritable bowel syndrome is strongly associated with generalized anxiety disorder: a community study.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. singlee@cuhk.edu.hk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

No previous study has examined the comorbidity of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in a general population using standardized diagnostic methods.

AIM:

To examine the prevalence, comorbidity and risk correlates of IBS and GAD in a general population.

METHODS:

A random community-based telephone survey was conducted. The questionnaire covered symptoms of IBS, GAD, core depressive symptoms, help-seeking behaviour and functional impairment on the Sheehan Disability Scale.

RESULTS:

A total of 2005 participants completed the interview. The current prevalence of IBS was 5.4% and the 12-month prevalence of GAD was 4%. GAD was five times more common among IBS respondents than non-IBS respondents (OR: 5.84, P < 0.001), whereas IBS was 4.7 times more common among GAD respondents than among non-GAD respondents (OR: 6.32, P < 0.001). Core depressive symptoms (OR: 6.25, P < 0.01) and education level (OR: 5.918, P = 0.021) were risk correlates of GAD among IBS respondents. Comorbid respondents were more impaired than respondents having either disorder alone, but were not more likely to seek professional help than IBS-only respondents.

CONCLUSION:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and GAD comorbidity was common and added to impairment in the community. The strong association between psychiatric morbidity and IBS observed in referral centres was not a consequence of increased help-seeking behaviour.

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