Symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux: prevalence, severity, duration and associated factors in a Spanish population

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Jan 1;19(1):95-105. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.2003.01769.x.


Aim: To measure the prevalence of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms and to identify associated factors in a representative sample of the Spanish population.

Methods: A telephone survey of 2500 subjects was performed using a validated questionnaire. The association of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms (defined as the presence of heartburn or acid regurgitation) and their clinical characteristics with potential risk factors was summarized using the odds ratios (OR) obtained by multiple logistic regression.

Results: The response rate was 71.2%. The annual prevalence of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms was 31.6% [95% confidence interval (CI), 29.8-33.4] and the weekly prevalence was 9.8% (95% CI, 8.6-10.9). Gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms were associated with excess weight (OR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.23-1.92), obesity (OR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.30-2.32), the psychosomatic symptom score (OR, 2.98; 95% CI, 2.41-3.67) and the presence of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms in a direct family member (OR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.17-2.23). Gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms of > or =10 years' duration were more frequent in obese subjects (OR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.14-3.22) and those with a direct family member with gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms (OR, 2.42; 95% CI, 1.44-4.06). Factors associated with gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms of < or =1 year duration were a spouse with gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms (OR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.39-3.9) and the consumption of 1-5 aspirins/week (OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.01-2.86).

Conclusions: The prevalence of frequent gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms in Spain is lower than that observed in other Western populations. The psychosomatic symptom score is the factor most strongly associated with gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms. Long-term gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms are associated with certain genetic factors (obesity, family history of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms), whereas short-term gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms are associated with factors of probable environmental nature.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology*
  • Heartburn / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires