Background: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterised by recurrent abdominal pain and disturbed bowel habits and unclear aetiology. IBS is also associated with psychosocial factors, impaired quality of life and lost work productivity. This study sought to determine whether the association between IBS and lost work productivity might be accounted for by poor coping strategies and loss of confidence in the healthcare system. Methods: Case-control design was employed sampling IBS and non-gastrointestinal (non-GI) primary healthcare seekers in a defined region in Sweden. Non-GI patients were of similar age and sex distribution to the IBS patients. Questionnaires applied in this study included instruments designed to measure confidence in the social security system and in the community, as well as questions about whether gastrointestinal problems might affect working life and Sense of coherence (SOC) questionnaire. The study's primary hypothesis was evaluated via an a priori path model. Results: Statistically significant differences were found between IBS cases (n = 305) and controls (n = 369) concerning abdominal pain or discomfort affecting everyday performance at work (p < 0.0001). IBS cases also showed significantly lower (p = 0.001) confidence in public healthcare. The study's hypothesis was supported with the finding of a statistically significant indirect association via poor coping strategies, although the indirect associations were lesser in magnitude than the direct association. Conclusions: This study found a clear association between clinically diagnosed IBS status and interference in work by gastrointestinal symptoms in which sense of coherence might be of importance.
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- disease burden
- sense of coherence
- confidence in public health