IBS patients' willingness to take risks with medications

Am J Gastroenterol. 2012 Jun;107(6):804-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2011.485.


Objectives: We explored irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients' impulsivity and risk-taking behavior and their willingness to take medication risks.

Methods: A validated questionnaire assessed the illness experience of IBS patients. A standard gamble evaluated respondents' willingness to take medication risks.

Results: IBS patients with severe symptoms were more willing to take significant medication risks than those with mild or moderate symptoms. Impulsivity scores were not associated with an increased likelihood of taking medication risks. Age, gender, and years of IBS symptoms were not associated with medication risk-taking behavior. IBS patients reported they would accept a median 1% risk of sudden death for a 99% chance of cure for their symptoms using a hypothetical medication.

Conclusions: IBS patients are willing to take significant medication risks to cure their symptoms. To counsel patients effectively, physicians must determine and understand IBS patients' risk aversion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / complications
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Insurance, Life / statistics & numerical data
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / ethnology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New England
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Gastrointestinal Agents