Background: We aimed to determine the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and associated risk factors, and assess quality of life (QoL) in relation to the frequency and severity of reflux symptoms.
Methods: A random sample of 1000 residents of Western Sydney were mailed a validated self-report questionnaire. GERD symptoms, risk factors, psychologic distress, QoL, and demographics were measured.
Results: The response rate was 73% (n=672; mean age, 46 y; 52% female). A total of 78 [12%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 9-14] had GERD (at least weekly heartburn and/or acid regurgitation). Independent risk factors for GERD were high cholesterol [odds ratio (OR) =3.28, 95% CI: 1.42-7.57, P=0.005] and current smoker (OR=2.47, 95% CI: 1.07-5.70, P=0.03). Anxiety, depression, and neuroticism were not risk factors. Worse physical functioning was the only QoL domain associated with GERD (OR=0.98, 95% CI: 0.97-0.99, P=0.006). QoL was significantly impaired regardless of the severity of GERD for the QoL domains physical function, body pain, vitality, and social function. The frequency of heartburn and acid regurgitation were not associated with significantly reduced QoL domain scores.
Conclusions: Cardiac risk factors (high cholesterol and smoking) were independently associated with GERD. Increasing GERD symptom severity is associated with worse QoL scores, whereas GERD symptom frequency did not impact the QoL scores.