The interpretation of Rome III criteria and method of assessment affect the irritable bowel syndrome classification of children

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Feb;33(3):403-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04535.x. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


Background: Paediatric classification of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is complicated by the potential discrepancy between parent and child report and by the interpretation of pain-stool relations in the Rome III classification system.

Aim: To compare IBS classification by diary and by child and parent respondents.

Methods: Children (ages 7-10 years, n = 90) with recurrent abdominal pain and their parents completed IBS symptom questionnaires and 2-week pain and stool diaries. Diaries were coded with two algorithms, one defining stool changes individually and one defining changes normatively. Proportions of dichotomous classifications (IBS vs. not IBS) between pairs of classification methods/respondents were evaluated using Chi-squared tests (χ²) to determine whether coding methods were significantly related, the degree of inclusiveness, and whether differences in classification were randomly distributed.

Results: Individual and normative diary classifications were congruent in 62% of cases, but the individual method classified more children with IBS, 53% vs. 18%. Parent and child questionnaire reports were not correlated. The normative diary classifications and parent questionnaire were the most congruent pair of methods (76% of cases).

Conclusions: Poor congruence among methods suggests that Rome III IBS criteria need better specification, and efforts to improve parent-child agreement are necessary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / classification*
  • Abdominal Pain / physiopathology
  • Abdominal Pain / psychology
  • Algorithms
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Constipation / etiology*
  • Diarrhea / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / classification*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain Measurement / psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*