Objectives: There is limited information on the relationship between gastroesophageal reflux symptoms and well-being in the general population. This study aimed to investigate this relationship and determine the severity threshold at which reflux symptoms meaningfully affect patients' well-being.
Methods: A random sample of the population of Malmö, Sweden (n = 4,624), was sent the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale, the Subjective Symptom Assessment Profile, and the Psychological General Well-Being Index. The relationship between well-being and the severity of heartburn, acid regurgitation, stomach pain, and abdominal pain was investigated by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA).
Results: Complete data were obtained from 1,476 subjects (43% male; mean age [standard deviation], 49.9 [14.2] yr). The mean Psychological General Well-Being Index score was 102 (95% CI: 101-103). Increasing symptom severity was associated with a decrease in well-being, and correlations between Psychological General Well-Being Index score and symptom severity ratings were statistically significant. At least mild symptoms of heartburn or abdominal pain (a mean Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale score of > or =3) were associated with a clinically meaningful reduction in well-being (a Psychological General Well-Being Index score of less than 98).
Conclusions: Reflux symptoms are associated with impaired well-being in the general population. Individuals with symptoms that are mild or more severe report a meaningful reduction in well-being similar to that seen in other diseases. This may represent an appropriate threshold for patient selection in trials of GERD therapy and for more detailed evaluation of patients consulting with reflux symptoms in clinical practice.