Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is associated with a range of symptoms (typically heartburn, acid regurgitation and dysphagia), which may or may not be accompanied by endoscopically evident esophagitis. A number of studies have demonstrated that health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in reflux disease patients is significantly impaired in comparison to the general population, regardless of the endoscopic findings. Furthermore, this impairment is comparable to or greater than that observed in other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis or congestive heart failure. Impaired HRQoL in GERD patients is a result of features such as disturbed sleep, reduced vitality, generalized body pain, an impaired sex life and anxiety about the underlying cause of the symptoms. Nocturnal symptoms of reflux disease appear to have a particularly marked impact on HRQoL. The burden of illness imposed by reflux disease on HRQoL also has an impact on productivity, both at and outside work. The impact of reflux disease on productivity is significant and comparable to that caused by headache or back pain. Effective treatment is available for reflux disease, and there is evidence that this can quickly restore HRQoL to levels observed in the general population. However, poor communication between physicians and patients is contributing to unacceptable levels of patient dissatisfaction. Understanding patients' experience of GERD and its treatment through the study of HRQoL is one way to address this problem.
Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel