Background: Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder, and its prevalence and demographics have been evaluated by different methodologies with varying results.
Aim: To evaluate irritable bowel syndrome demographic and prevalence characteristics utilizing a web-enabled panel.
Methods: From an existing 150 000-member panel, 31 829 individuals were randomly selected and sent screening questionnaires to evaluate irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Individuals who agreed to participate and completed the screening questionnaire received a second questionnaire related to a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, a more detailed symptom description, and additional burden of illness data.
Results: Irritable bowel syndrome prevalence was 7%. Prevalence was higher in women vs. men, unmarried individuals vs. married individuals and unemployed individuals vs. employed individuals. Of those completing the second questionnaire, 51% had seen their physicians for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in the past year and most had an episode within the past 3 months. During the past year, approximately half of the participants had used a prescription medication, and over 90% had used an over-the-counter medication for irritable bowel syndrome. Participants with irritable bowel syndrome demonstrated quality-of-life reductions relative to norms of the United States population.
Conclusions: Web-enabled data collection represents a novel tool for rapidly surveying a large population of individuals with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.