The impact of gastroesophageal reflux disease on health-related quality of life

Am J Med. 1998 Mar;104(3):252-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(97)00354-9.


Background: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects health-related quality of life.

Methods: We enrolled 533 adults with a history of heartburn symptoms for at least 6 months of moderate to severe heartburn in 4 of the 7 days before study entry. Patients were treated with ranitidine 150 mg twice a day for 6 weeks and Gelusil antacid tablets as needed. We measured physician-rated symptoms and the Medical Outcomes Study short-form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey at baseline and after 6 weeks of treatment. Baseline results were compared with normative data for the US population and for patients with selected chronic diseases. Treatment response was defined as no episode of moderate to severe heartburn for 7 days. Statistical significance was set at P <0.001.

Results: GERD patients reported significantly worse scores on all 8 SF-36 scales, physical function and well-being, and emotional well-being compared with the general population. Patients with GERD reported worse emotional well-being than patients with diabetes or hypertension. Treatment responders demonstrated significantly less pain and better physical function, social function, vitality, and emotional well-being compared with nonresponders.

Conclusions: Patients with GERD experience decrements in health-related quality of life compared with the general population. The impact of GERD is most striking on measures of pain, mental health, and social function. Successful treatment for GERD results in improvements in health-related quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Ranitidine / therapeutic use
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Ranitidine