Background: The impact of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms on health-related quality of life in the general population is poorly characterized.
Aim: To identify the frequency of troublesome reflux symptoms associated with impaired health-related quality of life in the general population.
Methods: A representative random sample of 3000 adult inhabitants of northern Sweden was surveyed using the validated Abdominal Symptom Questionnaire (response rate 74%). In total, 1001 random responders were endoscoped and assessed using the Short Form-36 Health Survey.
Results: Complete data were obtained for 999 subjects: 6% reported reflux symptoms (heartburn and/or regurgitation) daily, 14% weekly and 20% less than weekly during the previous 3 months. Compared with no reflux symptoms, a clinically relevant impairment of health-related quality of life (>or=5 points and P < 0.05) was seen in all eight Short Form-36 dimensions for daily symptoms, in five dimensions for weekly symptoms and in one dimension for less than weekly symptoms. There were no meaningful differences in Short Form-36 scores between subjects with and without oesophagitis.
Conclusions: Most aspects of health-related quality of life were impaired in individuals with daily or weekly reflux symptoms. Troublesome reflux symptoms at least weekly may identify gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.