Symptom Comparisons Between Asian American and White American Women With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Abstract

There is little information on racial/ethnic characteristics of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. In this study, we determined whether the severity of symptoms (gastrointestinal, psychological distress), cognitive beliefs about irritable bowel syndrome, and life impacts (life interference, health-related quality of life) differ between Asian American and White American women with irritable bowel syndrome. We also look at the relationships among these variables. Asian American women (N = 21) and age- and design-matched White American women (N = 63) with irritable bowel syndrome were included. Data were collected from questionnaires and a 28-day daily diary (e.g., abdominal pain, depression). The percent of days with moderate/severe abdominal pain and psychological distress were significantly higher, and constipation- and diarrhea-dominant bowel pattern subtypes were prevalent in White Americans as compared with Asian Americans. Positive relationships of gastrointestinal symptoms with psychological distress, and of gastrointestinal and psychological symptoms with negative cognitive beliefs and negative life impact, were observed in White Americans. Further studies to evaluate contributing (e.g., cultural–environmental, pathophysiological, diet) factors of symptom characteristics in Asian Americans are suggested. Our study provides useful information for healthcare providers to understand symptoms and cultural factors and the potential for culturally tailored symptom management for this patient group.

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