Background: The clinical assessment and investigation of irritable bowel syndrome would be greatly facilitated by the introduction of a simple, easy to use severity scoring system. Such a system, developed in our department over a number of years, has been submitted to validation in a total of 141 patients and 40 healthy controls.
Methods: The system, incorporating pain, distension, bowel dysfunction and quality of life/global well-being, was assessed for its ability to reliably score patients previously classified as mild, moderate or severe. The reproducibility and sensitivity to change of the system was also assessed.
Results: The maximum achievable score was 500. Mild, moderate and severe cases were indicated by scores of 75 to 175, 175 to 300 and > 300 respectively. Controls scored below 75 and patients scoring in this range can be considered to be in remission. There was a highly significant difference between controls and patients as a whole (P = 0.0001) as well as significant differences (P < 0.01) between all severity categories. Scores repeated within 24 h were very reproducible and sensitivity to change was also extremely good (P < 0.001) with a change of 50 reliably indicating improvement.
Conclusion: These results suggest that this scoring system should prove to be a valuable instrument in helping to meet the many challenges offered by irritable bowel syndrome.