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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2018 Aug;52(7):622-627. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000898.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome on the US Mexico Border: A Survey in an Indigent Population Using Rome III Criteria.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
Laboratorio de Hígado, Páncreas y Motilidad (HIPAM), Unidad de Investigación en Medicina Experimental, Facultad de Medicina-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Hospital General de México, Mexico City, Mexico.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Division of Biostatistics Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso.
Department of Public Health, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX.
Department of Family Practice, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso/Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, El Paso.



To investigate the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and its association with health perception and health care-seeking behavior in this Mexican American population.


The prevalence of IBS ranges from 3% to 20.4% in the United States and 4.4% to 16% in Mexico, based on Rome III and II criteria. However, its epidemiological profile in the US Mexico border is unknown.


We conducted a survey in a randomly selected indigent population (N=521) recruited into a colon cancer screening program (ACCION). The prevalence of IBS was estimated and a multivariable logistic regression was carried out to determine the associated risk factors. Results are summarized using odds ratio and 95% confidence interval (CI).


A total of 464 (89%) completed the survey (mean age, 56.7 y; female, 74.8%). Country of birth was Mexico in 90.5% and the United States in 8.2% and acculturation was more Spanish (94.8%) than English (5.2%). Overall, 5.6% (95% CI, 3.7-8.1) fulfilled criteria for IBS with a predominance among women (6.9%) versus men (1.7%) (P=0.03). On the basis of multivariable analysis, lower number of bowel movements/week (odds ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.80-1.00), having a primary care physician: 4.09 (1.51-11.12), using herbal treatments: 2.76 (1.08-7.06) and a previous IBS diagnosis: 23.11 (3.44-155.45), were significantly associated with the presence of IBS.


The prevalence of IBS on the US Mexico border is comparable with data obtained from studies in both countries. Consulting a primary care physician as an associated factor may reveal the high rate of health-care seeking in IBS patients, while herbal treatments may reflect a cultural influence.

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