Background: Little is known about the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of nonclinical samples of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in Canada. In a pilot survey, the impact of IBS on HRQOL using a population-based, urban sample was examined.
Methods: A random sample of Calgary residents (18 years of age or older), selected by random digit dialing (n=1521), completed a structured questionnaire including ROME II Criteria and Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 12-Item Health Survey, version 2 (SF-12v2). The mean scale and summary scores of SF-12v2 for those who did and did not meet ROME II criteria and for those who met ROME II criteria with and without visiting a physician in past three months were determined and compared using multiple regression analyses.
Results: Of the 951 households successfully contacted, 590 (62%) were willing to participate, of which 437 (74%) individuals were recruited. One hundred ten IBS cases (81 of which were women) and 327 non-IBS controls (180 of which were women) were identified. All of the eight mean scale scores and the two mean summary scores were significantly lower in people with IBS than in those without, whether or not adjusting for demographics. Forty-four of the 110 IBS cases (40%) sought medical help. Significantly lower mean physical component score and three scale scores (general health, social functioning and role physical) were found in those who sought medical help than in those who did not.
Conclusions: People with IBS experience significant impairment in HRQOL, including both physical and mental well-being. People with IBS who seek medical help report worse physical health than those who do not, but their mental health is no different.