Identification of distinct upper lower gastrointestinal symptom groupings in an urban population

N. J. Talley*, P. Boyce, M. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Citations (Scopus)


Background - The current classification dividing patients with functional gastrointestinal symptoms into groups remains controversial. Aims - To determine whether distinct symptom groupings exist in the community. Methods - A random sample of Sydney residents in Penrith, Australia was mailed a validated self report questionnaire. Gastrointestinal symptoms including the Rome criteria for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and dyspepsia were measured. Results - Among 730 respondents, the 12 month age and gender adjusted prevalence (adjusted to the Australian population) of IBS, dyspepsia, and gastro-oesophageal reflux were 11.8% (95% confidence interval (CI) 9.3 to 14.3%), 11.5% (95% CI 9.6 to 14.6%), and 17.5% (95% CI 14.2 to 19.9%), respectively. In total, 60% of the population reported four or more gastrointestinal symptoms. There was considerable overlap of IBS with dyspepsia and among the dyspepsia subgroups by application of the Rome criteria. Independently, 10 symptom groupings were identified by factor analysis. The underlying constructs measured by these factors were generally the major abdominal syndromes recognised by the Rome classification: dyspepsia, IBS, reflux, painless constipation, painless diarrhoea, and bloating, in addition to a number of more specific symptom groupings. Conclusion - Gastrointestinal symptoms are common and overlap in the community, but distinct upper and lower abdominal symptom groupings can be identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-695
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Dyspepsia
  • Factor analysis
  • Functional bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Rome criteria


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