Objective: A link between functional bowel disease and sexual, physical, emotional, or verbal abuse remains controversial. We aimed to determine whether abuse is associated with functional bowel disease in outpatients.
Methods: A consecutive sample of outpatients completed a validated questionnaire; 997 responded. Using standard criteria, we obtained data on symptoms, psychosocial factors, and abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional or verbal). Logistic regression analysis was used to determine whether abuse was associated with functional bowel disease (versus organic disease) and with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-type symptoms defined by the Manning criteria. Adjustments were made for age, gender, marital status, education level, psychological distress, and social support.
Results: Of those with a physician-based diagnosis of functional bowel disease (n = 440), 22% reported some form of abuse (13% sexual and/or physical abuse), compared with those with organic disease (n = 557), 16% of whom reported some form of abuse; this difference was not significant. However, abused patients were significantly more likely to report IBS-type symptoms than those who did not report a history of abuse (odds ratio = 1.7, 95% confidence interval = 1.2, 2.5).
Conclusion: Outpatients who report abuse are more likely to have IBS-type symptoms.