Functional gastrointestinal symptoms in a Wellington community sample

N Z Med J. 1990 Sep 12;103(897):418-20.


In this study, gut functioning and the prevalence of functional bowel disorders among a Wellington community sample of 285 apparently healthy people was estimated using a standardised questionnaire. When asked for their opinion of their bowel functioning generally, 37% of respondents were satisfied that it was always normal, 57.2% regarded it as not always normal, and 5.6% felt it was normal less than half the time or not normal at all. However, only 11.6% had actually consulted a physician about a stomach or bowel disorder in the past year. Average bowel frequency was 8.4 movements per week (SD = 3.9) for the total sample. Approximately three quarters of the total sample had experienced diarrhoea at least occasionally, but only 2.5% half the movements or more often. Constipation was reported by 8.1% for half the time or more, and 1.8% for most bowel movements. Abdominal distension was experienced by 7.2% on half of days or more, and 3.6% on most days or daily. Abdominal pain occuring on six or more separate days in the previous year was reported by 26.4% of men and 31.9% of women. Pain not due to organic disorders that was colonic in nature and of the irritable bowel syndrome type was reported by 15.9% of men and 17.2% of women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / epidemiology*
  • Constipation / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence