Understanding racial disparities in the care of patients with irritable bowel syndrome: The need for a unified approach

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2021 May;33(5):e14152. doi: 10.1111/nmo.14152. Epub 2021 Apr 9.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a highly prevalent disorder of gut-brain interaction, which significantly erodes the quality of life of those it affects. Recent studies have confirmed that its prevalence varies quite markedly between countries, implying that it is affected by cultural and socioeconomic factors. In an important study, Silvernale at al. have recently reported racial disparities including potential referral biases, with reduced opportunities to access specialist care and differing patterns of healthcare utilization affecting ethnic minority populations with IBS. Similar disparities have also been reported for other gastrointestinal disorders. In this paper, we, therefore, discuss the potential implications of such disparities and how they can impact clinical outcomes, and discuss ways in which this problem could be addressed, and highlighting areas for future research.

Keywords: DGBI; bias; irritable bowel syndrome; racial disparity; stigma.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / therapy
  • Minority Groups
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Quality of Life