Background: Associations between psychological and endoscopic profiles are not clearly validated among the heterogeneous patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The purpose of the present paper was therefore to identify any associations by means of cross-sectional study.
Methods: Consecutive participants in a health screening program were enrolled. Definition and severity of erosive esophagitis were assessed with Los Angeles classification. Frequency and severity of psychological symptoms were measured with a 30-item Brief Symptom Rating Scale (BSRS) and personality traits with a short form of the Maudsley Personality Inventory (MPI). Statistic analyses were performed based on the presence of GERD symptoms or endoscopic esophagitis.
Results: A total of 4600 participants were recruited. There were 1331 subjects (29%) with manifestations suggesting GERD, including non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) in 488 (10.6%), symptomatic erosive esophagitis (SEE) in 164 (3.6%), and asymptomatic erosive esophagitis (AEE) in 679 (14.8%). The BSRS parameters were significantly higher in symptomatic subjects (i.e. NERD and SEE subjects; P < 0.001); neuroticism scores were also higher (P < 0.001), but extroversion scores (P < 0.001) were lower than those of asymptomatic subjects. Following logistic regression analysis, independent risk factors for GERD symptoms were female gender (odds ratio [OR]: 1.596; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.303-1.955) and higher neuroticism scores (OR: 1.046; 95%CI: 1.032-1.06). For erosive esophagitis, independent risk factors were male gender (OR: 2.943; 95%CI: 2.359-3.671) and higher body mass index scores (OR: 1.098; 95%CI: 1.069-1.127).
Conclusions: Psychological characteristics predict likelihood of GERD symptoms but not structural state of esophagus. Male gender and obesity are risk factors for erosive esophagitis; whereas female gender and neuroticism are more likely to be associated with GERD symptoms.