Burden of constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C) in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom

Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2012:5:203-12. doi: 10.2147/CEG.S35568. Epub 2012 Nov 8.


Background: Several studies have examined the effect of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on health outcomes in Western Europe, but less research has focused on the constipation subtype (IBS-C). The current study addresses this gap by comparing patients with IBS-C and matched controls for health status, work productivity, and resource utilization.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 2010 5EU National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS), which includes respondents from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Only participants from France (n = 15,051), Italy (n = 7580), and the UK (n = 15,065) were included in the analyses. Respondents who reported a physician diagnosis of IBS and reported only constipation symptoms were compared with respondents who did not report being diagnosed with IBS using a propensity score-matching methodology (matching on sociodemographics, health behaviors, and comorbidities). Differences between patients with IBS-C and matched controls were examined on health status (Short Form Survey Instrument version 2), work productivity (Work Productivity and Activity Impairment questionnaire), and health care resource use in the past 6 months.

Results: A total of 83 (0.55%), 109 (1.44%), and 204 (1.35%) respondents reported a diagnosis of IBS with only constipation symptoms in France, Italy, and the UK, respectively. Within each country, patients with IBS-C reported significantly worse health status compared with matched controls (all P < 0.05) and significantly more physician visits (all P < 0.05). More hospitalizations were also observed in the UK (P < 0.05). Among those who were employed, patients with IBS-C in France and the UK also reported significantly more presenteeism than matched controls (all P < 0.05).

Conclusion: These findings highlight the pervasive influence of IBS-C on the day-to-day functioning of sufferers, their ability to be productive at work, and their influence on the wider health care system. Significant unmet needs remain, and improved management of this condition could result in significant and clinically meaningful gains in health status as well as alleviating a societal cost burden.

Keywords: Europe; health care resource use; health status; work productivity.