Prevalence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Psychological Ill-Health and Health-Seeking Behavior in a Population of Nigerian Medical Students

Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa)


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder with considerable morbidity and profound negative impact on quality of life. It has been observed that patients with psychological disturbances relate more frequently with the symptoms of IBS, and they have more debilitating illness than control populations. We examined the prevalence of IBS among a population of Nigerian medical students and its association with two common psychological conditions (anxiety and depression).

Methods: In a descriptive cross-sectional study, we enrolled 321 consenting medical students aged 20 to 50 years. A 34-item self-reporting questionnaire consisting of sociodemographic data, the Rome III IBS questionnaire, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and two IBS-related health-seeking behaviour questions was administered to the participants. Statistical analysis was done with the IBM-Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), version 20.

Results: A total of 320 participants were included in the analyses. The mean age of the participants was 26.3 ±4.1 years. The prevalence of IBS among the medical students was 14.4%, and IBS-M was the predominant subtype (58.7%). IBS had a significant relationship with the female gender [OR =2.19 (95% CI, 1.14 – 4.22), P =0.019] and anxiety [OR 1.18 (95% CI, 1.061.32), P =0.003]. The disease showed no significant association with other risk factors considered. IBS health-seeking behaviour was significantly associated with depression [OR = 8.89(95% CI, 1.66 - 47.51), P<0.001].

Conclusion: IBS is moderately prevalent among our study population, and it is positively associated with the female gender and anxiety.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


J Adv Med Med Res