Irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia among women veterans: prevalence and association with psychological distress

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The burden of functional GI disorders and their associations with psychological distress in women veterans is unclear.


To examine 1-year prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and dyspepsia symptoms and their associations with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women veterans receiving primary care at a Veteran Affairs Medical Center Women's Clinic.


Irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia and psychological distress were assessed using the validated self-administered Bowel Disorder Questionnaire, the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories, as well as the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Questionnaire.


We enrolled 248 women (84% participation rate). Ninety-three (38%) reported IBS and 51 (21%) dyspepsia symptoms. Women with IBS and dyspepsia reported higher mean scores of anxiety (IBS: 24 vs. 12, P< 0.0005 and dyspepsia: 26 vs. 12, P< 0.0005), depression (IBS: 22 vs. 11, P= 0.0005 and dyspepsia: 23 vs. 11, P< 0.0005) and PTSD (IBS: 87 vs. 69, P< 0.001 and dyspepsia: 86 vs. 69, P< 0.0005). Age- and ethnicity-adjusted logistic regression analyses showed a 3- to 46-fold increase in odds of IBS and dyspepsia among women with anxiety, depression or PTSD.


Women veterans have high prevalence of IBS and dyspepsia symptoms, both of which are highly associated with presence of depression, anxiety and PTSD.

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