Objectives: To study the epidemiology, symptom characteristics and impact of IBS in an urban Asian population.
Methods: A validated bowel symptom questionnaire was administered at face-to-face interviews to a random sample of 3,000 households in Singapore.
Results: The response rate was 78.2% (n = 2,276, 1,143 males and 1,133 females). The age, sex, and racial distribution of our respondents were similar to the general population and there was no significant difference between respondents and nonrespondents by type of household. The prevalence of IBS was 11.0%, 10.4%, and 8.6% by Manning (>1 criteria), Rome I and Rome II criteria, respectively. There was a higher prevalence of IBS in those <50 years of age (9.7%vs 5.8% 50 or > years, p = 0.002), with more than 6 years of education (9.8%vs 5.9% 6 year or <, p = 0.002) and living in landed property (16.8%vs 8.2% living in apartments and public housing, p = 0.008). There was no striking preponderance of female IBS subjects. Chronic constipation was a more common bowel disturbance than chronic diarrhea among our IBS subjects (51.0%vs 12.8%).
Conclusions: The prevalence and impact of IBS in our Asian urban society are greater than previously appreciated. We believe that our results provide a useful window to the future trends of gastrointestinal diseases for health and education authorities in developing Asian countries to look into.