Epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome among African Americans as compared with whites: a population-based study

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Jul;3(7):647-53. doi: 10.1016/s1542-3565(05)00367-8.


Background & aims: We studied the prevalence as well as the sociodemographic characteristics and quality of life of African American patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) among the population at large and compared them with those of whites.

Methods: A total of 990 adults from 9 different sites in the Jackson, Mississippi metropolitan area (670 African Americans and 320 whites) completed self-administered questionnaires providing sociodemographic information and details regarding bowel habits and associated symptoms for diagnosing IBS on the basis of Rome II criteria. Quality of life was assessed by the SF-12 questionnaire.

Results: Ninety-five of the 990 participants had IBS, giving a total sample prevalence of 9.6% (African Americans, 7.9%; whites, 13.1%). Adjusting for other risk factors in a reduced logistic regression model, we found race (P = .0004) and education (P = .0049) to be important correlates of IBS prevalence. The household income showed a trend toward statistical significance (P = .0845). With the adjusted odds ratio as an estimate of relative risk, whites were 2.5 (95% confidence interval, 1.5-4.0) more likely than African Americans to have IBS. In terms of an index for quality of life (possible score, 1-44), the adjusted mean score was lower for adults with IBS compared with non-IBS adults (IBS mean, 29.8; no IBS, 34.2; P < .0001), but the racial difference was not significant.

Conclusions: IBS occurs less frequently among African Americans. Although IBS affects quality of life among both ethnicities, the degree of impairment is similar.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mississippi / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health