Aims: To study the prevalence of dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome and the effects of co-existing anxiety and depression on health care utilization by a population survey in Chinese.
Methods: Ethnic Chinese households were invited to participate in a telephone survey using a validated bowel symptom questionnaire and the hospital anxiety and depression scale. Gastrointestinal symptoms were classified as dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome according to the Rome I criteria and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease by the presence of weekly heartburn or acid regurgitation. The anxiety and depression scores were compared between patients who sought medical attention and those who did not, using multiple logistic regression analysis.
Results: One thousand, six hundred and forty-nine subjects completed the interview (response rate, 62%). The population prevalences of dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease were 18.4%, 4.1% and 4.8%, respectively. Dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome were associated with anxiety, depression, medical consultation, sick leave and adverse effects on social life. The degree of anxiety was an independent factor associated with health care-seeking behaviour in both dyspeptics (P = 0.003) and irritable bowel syndrome patients (P = 0.036).
Conclusions: Irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia are associated with anxiety, depression, significant social morbidity, health care utilization and days off work. Anxiety is an independent factor in determining health care utilization in patients with dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome.