The effect of culture on symptom reporting: Hispanics and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Journal: American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 2007 May;19(5):261-7.

Authors and Affiliations: Barakzai MD, Gregory J, Fraser D. Department of Nursing, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, California, USA.

PMID: 17489959

Purpose: To explore whether the symptoms reported by Mexican-American patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) meet the current diagnostic criteria.

Data sources: A retrospective review of charts of Mexican-American patients diagnosed with IBS at three large medical centers in central California was performed. Demographic information was extracted, and descriptive statistics were used to determine how symptoms were reported and whether the described symptoms met the Rome II criteria.

Conclusions: Only 63% of the Mexican-American patients in this study reported symptoms that met any of the nine Rome II criteria. There was no significant difference between patients who were English dominant and those who were monolingual Spanish in the concordance of their presenting complaint and the current diagnostic criteria. In addition, there was no significant gender difference in the rate at which symptoms met the Rome II criteria.

Implications for practice: Assessment of illness and its symptoms requires that the practitioner have a clear understanding of what the illness means to the patient in order to develop an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate and timely plan of treatment.

This study highlights the necessity of revising the symptom-based criteria for diagnosing IBS to include a wider array of reported complaints, taking into account the impact of culture on the perception and description of symptoms.

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