Increased prescriptions for irritable bowel syndrome after the 2018 Japan Floods: a longitudinal analysis based on the Japanese National Database of Health Insurance Claims and Specific Health Checkups

BMC Gastroenterol. 2022 May 26;22(1):263. doi: 10.1186/s12876-022-02342-6.


Background: The frequency and intensity of natural disasters are increasing worldwide, which makes our understanding of disaster-related diseases more important than ever. Natural disasters cause mental stress and infectious diarrhea, but the causal relationship between disasters and a potential consequence of these conditions, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is unreported. The 2018 Japan Floods, which took place in July 2018 was one of the largest water disasters in Japan's recorded history. We investigate the change of drug prescriptions for IBS between disaster-suffers and non-sufferers throughout the disaster period to examine the relationship.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study based on the Japanese National Database of Health Insurance Claims and Specific Health Checkups in flood-stricken areas between July 2017 and June 2019. We included subjects older than 15 years of age who had visited a medical institution or been hospitalized in the hardest-hit areas of the disaster. Ramosetron, polycarbophil calcium, and mepenzolate bromide (IBS drugs) approved solely for the treatment of IBS in Japan were analyzed. The monthly rate of prescriptions for IBS drugs was compared between municipality-certified disaster victims and non-victims using a controlled interrupted time series analysis. For those who were not prescribed IBS drugs before the disaster (non-users), the occurrence of an IBS drug prescription after the disaster was evaluated using a multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusted for gender and age.

Results: Of 5,287,888 people enrolled, 32,499 (0.61%) were certified victims. The prescription rate for IBS drugs among victims increased significantly by 128% immediately after the disaster, while it was stable among non-victims. The trend for the post-disaster prescription rate among victims moved upward significantly when compared to non-victims (0.01% per month; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.004-0.015; P = 0.001). Among non-users, the occurrence of an IBS drug prescription for victims was 0.71% and was significantly higher than non-victims (0.35%, adjusted odds ratio 2.05; 95% CI 1.81-2.32).

Conclusions: The 2018 Japan Floods increased the rate of prescriptions for IBS drugs, suggesting that the disaster caused or worsened IBS among victims.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Irritable bowel syndrome; Mental stress; Natural disaster; Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Floods*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Prescriptions
  • Retrospective Studies