Document Type



Medicine; Gastroenterology



To investigate the frequency of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and health seeking behaviour in patients belonging to different ethnic groups and their squatter settlements in two cities of Pakistan.


Questionnaire based on Rome II criteria for the diagnosis of IBS was sent to 1167 persons living in, Karachi and Bahawalpur and their squatter settlements in Baloch Colony and Tibba Badar Sher respectively. About 90% (1048) completed the questionnaire.


The overall frequency of IBS was 14% with a mean age of 30 +/- 12.5 years and range of 16-85 years. Of the IBS positive patients, 56% (82/146) were males. IBS was significantly more common (p = 0.05) in males belonging to age group 16-30 years. The most common presenting symptoms were abdominal pain (100%), altered bowel habits (51%), and diarrhoea (54%). There was no difference in the prevalence of IBS in Karachi and Baloch Colony as compared to Bahawalpur and Tibba Badar Sher. IBS patients seeking health care advice were 17.6% as compared to 12.6 % non healthcare seekers. Of the healthcare seekers there were 29 (35.4%) males (p = 0.002). The overall mean age of health care seeking IBS patients was 32.8 +/-13.8 years (p < 0.001). All IBS patients seeking healthcare advice had abdominal pain (p < 0.001), while 61% had altered stool consistency (p < 0.001) and 46% had stool frequency (p < 0.001) as compared to IBS non healthcare seekers.


IBS is seen in both urban and suburban communities. Health seeking behaviour is common in males and with abdominal pain.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Pakistan Medical Association