Background: Population-based data on gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in Chinese are lacking. The prevalence, clinical spectrum and health care-seeking behaviour of subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease were studied.
Methods: Ethnic Chinese (3605) were invited to participate in a telephone survey using a validated gastro-oesophageal reflux disease questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Results: A total of 2209 subjects (58% female; mean age, 40.3 years) completed the interview. The annual, monthly and weekly prevalence rates of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease were 29.8%, 8.9% and 2.5%, respectively. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease symptoms were associated with non-cardiac chest pain [odds ratio (OR), 2.3; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.7-3.1], dyspepsia (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4-2.5), globus (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.7), acid feeling in the stomach (OR, 5.8; 95% CI, 4.5-7.5) and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.5-3.6), but not with dysphagia, bronchitis, asthma, hoarseness and pneumonia. Patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease had a significantly higher anxiety and depression score and required more days off work when compared with subjects without. The frequency of heartburn (P = 0.032), female gender (P < 0.001), degree of depression (P = 0.004) and social morbidity (P < 0.001) were independent factors associated with health care-seeking behaviour.
Conclusion: The prevalence of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease was lower than that in Western populations, but carried a significant socio-economic burden in the studied Chinese population. The frequency of heartburn, female gender and psychosocial factors were associated with health care utilization in gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.