Psychological comorbidity and complexity of gastrointestinal symptoms in clinically diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients – Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dec 5, 2007

Background and Aim: The prevalence of psychological disorders is high in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but their role in symptom reporting is uncertain.

It is thus interesting whether the number of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) determines the load of psychological comorbidity. The Rome III criteria [internationally recognized criteria for diagnosing gastrointestinal illnesses] have not been used to evaluate such a relationship as yet. Moreover, not many studies have examined the sensitivity of the Rome III criteria in detecting IBS.

Our aims were therefore:

1. To determine whether those IBS participants with more FGID had a tendency to greater psychological comorbidity than those with fewer FGID; and

2. To assess the performance of the Rome III criteria in detecting IBS versus the diagnosis of the gastroenterologist.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 32 consecutive outpatients with clinically diagnosed IBS was performed. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Short Form 12 Health Survey (SF-12), and the Rome III criteria questionnaire (BDQ-6) were administered. Multiple linear regression was conducted to detect associations among FGID, anxiety, depression and quality of life.

Results: Overall, 50% of participants were anxious and 12% were depressed. Forty-four percent of participants had >two FGID; however, the number of FGID did not correlate with scores for anxiety, depression or quality of life.

Amazingly, only 50% (CI: 33-67) of participants clinically diagnosed with IBS met Rome III criteria for IBS.


  • Contrary to our expectations, a greater load of functional gastrointestinal disorders did not correlate with a greater load of psychological comorbidity.

  • Surprisingly, the Rome III criteria detected only 50% of clinical cases of IBS.

  • Source: Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2007 Dec 5 [E-pub ahead of print] PMID: 18070012, by Mikocka-Walus A, Turnbull D, Moulding N, Wilson I, Andrews JM, Holtmann G. Discipline of General Practice, University of Adelaide, South Australia; Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia; School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia [E-mail:]<

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