Public Health and Primary CareORIGINAL ARTICLE

Self-Reported Physical Health, Mental Health, and Comorbid Diseases Among Women With Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, or Both Compared With Healthy Control Respondents

Peter Przekop, DO, PhD; Mark G. Haviland, PhD; Yan Zhao, MD, PhD; Keiji Oda, MPH; Kelly R. Morton, PhD; and Gary E. Fraser, MD, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: May 8, 2012

Accepted: August 30, 2012

Published: November 1, 2012

J Osteopath Med; 112(11): 726-735

Context: Physicians often encounter patients with functional pain disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia (FM), and their co-occurrence. Although these diseases are diagnosed exclusively by patients’ report of symptoms, there are few comparative studies about patients’ perceptions of these diseases.

Objectives: To compare perceptions of these conditions among 4 groups—3 clinical groups of older women with IBS, FM, or both disorders (IBS plus FM) and 1 similarly aged control group of women with no IBS or FM—using their responses to survey questions about stressful life events, general physical and mental health, and general medical, pain, and psychiatric comorbidities.

Methods: Using data from the Biopsychosocial Religion and Health Study survey, responses from women were compared regarding a number of variables. To compare stress-related and physical-mental health profiles across the 4 groups, 1-way analyses of variance and χ2 tests (with Tukey-Kramer and Tukey post hoc tests, respectively) were used, with α set to .05.

Results: The present study comprised 3811 women. Participants in the control group, the IBS group, the FM group, and the IBS plus FM group numbered 3213 (84.3%), 366 (9.6%), 161 (4.2%), and 71 (1.9%), respectively, with a mean (standard deviation) age of 62.4 (13.6), 64.9 (13.7), 63.2 (10.8), and 61.1 (10.9) years, respectively. In general, participants in the control group reported fewer lifetime traumatic and major life stressors, better physical and mental health, and fewer comorbidities than respondents in the 3 clinical groups, and these differences were both statistically significant and substantial. Respondents with IBS reported fewer traumatic and major life stressors and better health (ratings and comorbidity data) than respondents with FM or respondents with IBS plus FM. Overall, respondents with both diseases reported the worst stressors and physical-mental health profiles and reported more diagnosed medical, pain, and psychiatric comorbidities.

Conclusions: The results revealed statistically significant, relatively large differences in perceptions of quality of life measures and health profiles among the respondents in the control group and the 3 clinical groups.

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