Background/aim: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is common among undergraduate students and is associated with several modifiable risk factors. The present study aimed to explore the epidemiology of IBS in Saudi undergraduate students.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out from February 2018 to June 2018. A total of 767 undergraduate students from all regions of Saudi Arabia completed an online self-administered questionnaire. IBS symptoms were assessed using the Rome IV diagnostic criteria.
Results: The mean age was 21.88 years (range 18-29); 56.1% of the study population were females and 50.1% were from the central region of Saudi Arabia. Students of medical colleges represented 30.2% of the sample. The overall prevalence of IBS was 15.8%. Significant independent risk factors for IBS were female sex (OR = 3.738; 95% CI = 2.093, 6.673), being a student in a medical college (OR = 7.216; 95% CI = 4.438, 11.733), living in a rented apartment (OR = 6.752; 95% CI = 2.586, 17.627), living on campus (OR = 6.563; 95% CI = 2.138, 20.145), poor sleep quality (OR = 3.156; 95% CI = 1.850, 5.385), exercise (OR = 0.394; 95% CI = 0.193, 0.803), smoking (OR = 5.256; 95% CI = 2.841, 9.724), family history of IBS (OR = 1.641; 95% CI = 1.012, 2.661), and emotional stress (OR = 2.184; 95% CI = 1.375, 3.469).
Conclusion: Overall, 15.8% of participants in this study met the Rome IV criteria for IBS diagnosis. IBS was associated with several lifestyle factors, as well as family history and emotional stress.
Keywords: Epidemiology; Saudi Arabia; irritable bowel syndrome; risk factors; undergraduate students.
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