Health-related quality of life in patients attending a gastroenterology outpatient clinic: functional disorders versus organic diseases

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Feb;4(2):187-95. doi: 10.1016/s1542-3565(05)00981-x.


Background & aims: Several gastrointestinal (GI) disorders have major effects on health-related quality of life (HRQOL), but there are few direct comparisons between functional GI disorders and organic GI diseases. This study aimed to compare HRQOL between these 2 groups and to assess factors of importance for HRQOL.

Methods: Three hundred ninety-nine consecutive patients attending a GI outpatient clinic completed HRQOL instruments (Short Form 36 [SF-36] and Psychological General Well-Being index [PGWB]) and the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS). For the analyses we divided the patients into 2 diagnostic groups: functional GI disorders (n = 112) and organic GI diseases (n = 287).

Results: Compared with norm values on SF-36 and PGWB, both patient groups exhibited profound reductions in HRQOL. After correcting for age, gender, and disease duration, patients with a functional GI disorder had significantly lower scores than patients with an organic GI disease on 6 of 8 SF-36 domains and 5 of 6 PGWB domains. Vitality and anxiety on PGWB, abdominal pain and diarrhea on GSRS, age, and gender independently contributed to the physical component score of SF-36 (adjusted R(2) = 32%). Patients with a functional GI disorder had more severe reflux, abdominal pain, constipation, and indigestion, but the severity of diarrhea did not differ between the groups. HRQOL was reduced with increasing severity of GI symptoms.

Conclusion: GI disorders have profound effects on HRQOL, and the impact is greater in patients with functional GI disorders as compared with organic GI diseases. The reduction in HRQOL is associated with the severity of both psychological and GI symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / psychology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires