[Epidemiological study of functional bowel disorders in Iceland]

Laeknabladid. 2005 Apr;91(4):329-33.
[Article in Icelandic]


Objective: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence of functional bowel disorders (FBD) in a population-based sample and to assess FBD-related health care seeking and medication in Iceland.

Material and methods: A self-report questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 2000 inhabitants, 18-75 years of age. The questionnaire addressed 46 gastrointestinal symptoms and 42 other health related, sociodemographic and psychosomatic symptom items. The questionnaire classified subjects into two symptom categories, dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome.

Results: The response rate was 67% which represents 1% of the 18-75 year old population of Iceland. Dyspepsia in the year prior to the study was reported by 17.8% who had symptoms that were defined as moderate or severe (15.3% male, 20% female). Based on the Manning Criteria, which define IBS as having two or more abdominal symptoms out of six at least six times in the previous year in addition to abdominal pain, the crude prevalence of IBS was 30.9% (25.3% men, 35.8% women) (Chi2=15.77, p<0.05). Both symptom categories were more common in women and the prevalence decreased with age. No correlation with socioeconomic status was found. There was more than 90% overlap between the two diagnostic categories. Irritable bowel syndrome was found to be associated with depression, appendectomy and dysmenorrhea.

Conclusions: This population-based study shows a high prevalence of functional bowel disorders in Iceland and higher than reported in other studies that use similar criteria. It can be speculated that the reasons for this high prevalence are associated with special features of the socio-psychological profile of the Icelandic society.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iceland / epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence