In Asia, IBS is less known and less studied than in other parts of the world. A recent study in Taiwan was done to determine the prevalence and social impact, as well as the health-seeking behaviour of people with IBS in that country.

By asking people who were seeking a health check-up (total number: 2,865) to compete a questionnaire, researchers found 22.1% met the symptom criteria for IBS. This study also revealed that IBS patients were more likely to have excessive doctor visits, were absent from school/work more often than those without IBS, and also suffered from sleep disturbances.

The researchers concluded that IBS is common in the Chinese population of Taiwan, and that it involves significant social and medical burdens. There was no gender difference found among those with IBS. Previous studies in most other countries have shown a greater number of women than men who have IBS (even as high as 75:25 has been reported) except in India, where more men than women are diagnosed with IBS.

This study challenges the long held belief that IBS is more common in women and it confirms the belief that IBS has significant social impact and healthcare burdens.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 144 – July/August 2004
Lu C-L; et al. Current patterns of irritable bowel syndrome in Taiwan: The Rome II questionnaire on a Chinese population Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2003. 18 (11-12):1159-1169