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BMC Gastroenterol. 2017 Dec 2;17(1):137. doi: 10.1186/s12876-017-0698-2.

Irritable bowel syndrome: prevalence, risk factors in an adult Lebanese population.

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Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine, Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital, P.O. Box 36, Byblos, Lebanon.
Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine, Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital, P.O. Box 36, Byblos, Lebanon.



Very few studies report on the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its correlates in the Middle East. This study investigated Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) prevalence in a sample of Lebanese adult individuals and associated demographic and behavioral lifestyle factors.


This is an observational population-based study. The target population is working Lebanese adults, eighteen-to-sixty five years old. The sample was selected from a convenience population of bank employees in different geographical areas in Lebanon. The study participants completed an anonymous self-administered questionnaire, to collect data on their socio-demographic, behavioral and life style characteristics, and diagnostic questions following Rome III criteria to assess IBS occurrence. The difference in IBS prevalence by socio-demographic characteristics, smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity was assessed by using the Chi-square test. Logistic regression adjusted odds ratios were used to investigate the association between risk factors and IBS.


Data was collected from 553 individuals and consisted of 52.8% females (mean age 35.9 years, SD = 11.9) and 47.2% males (mean age = 36.1 years, SD = 10.3). The prevalence of IBS in the study population according to Rome III criteria was 20.1%. The bivariate analysis indicated that being younger than 30 years old, a female, an ever water pipe smoker, an ever alcohol consumer are significantly associated with a higher prevalence of IBS. Educational level, cigarettes smoking and physical exercise were not significantly associated with IBS occurrence. The logistic regression adjusted odds ratio showed that females were 1.67 times more likely to have IBS than males (P˂ 0.05). The participants aged less than 30 years old were at a higher risk of having IBS (P˂ 0.01). Those who ever smoked waterpipe were 1.63 times more likely to have IBS than those who never smoked waterpipe (P˂ 0.05). Those who were ever alcohol drinkers were twice as likely to have IBS than never-drinkers (P˂ 0.01).


New data on the high prevalence of IBS in an adult population in Lebanon has been reported. This is also the first study to investigate and show an association of waterpipe smoking and IBS. Further longitudinal studies are warranted to determine whether this association is causal.


Alcohol; Cigarette smoking; Irritable bowel syndrome; Lebanon; Physical activity; Prevalence; Rome III criteria; Water pipe

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